One of the many questions we receive here on THE DAILY MEDITATION is: How to meditate when you don’t have time.
Meditation is a fabulous tool for practicing mindfulness, reaching insights into yourself, and even reprogramming your brain. However, if you work multiple jobs and homeschool your kids, you probably don’t have the time to meditate.
You can find the time to meditate by doing the things you already do but in a mindful way.
This personal reflection method doesn’t require you to visit a shrine or roll out a yoga mat. You can even incorporate it into everyday activities. It’s the ideal form of this ancient practice for those who never seem to stop.
If you look up the word “meditation” in the dictionary, you won’t see “sitting” as a synonym. The practice merely entails training in awareness and developing a healthy sense of perspective. You can gain that through a variety of activities.
The critical component involves focusing your attention on the present. You can’t distract yourself with electronics, other media or chitchat.
When you think of it that way, movement inherently lends itself to meditation. You can’t balance a spreadsheet while you jog — if you can, call the “Guinness Book of World Records.” If you leave the headphones at home, you have nothing to concentrate on but the beating of your heart and the feel of your feet striking pavement. So by
Anyone can incorporate more mindfulness into their daily lives this way. You might have a few people accuse you of having your head in the clouds — but in reality, you’re grounding yourself in the present.
10 Ways to Practice Mini Movement Meditations Every Day
If you dart from the office to your oldest’s soccer match and then rush home to dinner, you still have ample mindfulness opportunities. Consider the following 10 activities as ways to harness your inner zen.
1. Take a Walk
If you get a 10-minute break at work, you can sneak in some movement meditation. Head outside and go for a walk — the fresh air will improve your mood. Our guide to Zen Walking will help you get started.
While you stroll, pause every 10 to 15 steps to breathe and engage your senses. Do you hear birds chirping? How does the air feel against your skin?
As you begin walking again, pay attention to the mechanics of walking. How does your body feel when your feet strike the pavement? Can you sense your heart beating a little more quickly?
2. Dance Up a Storm
Dancing is a fabulous form of movement meditation. It could also preserve your brain health. A study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that dancing did the best job of preventing Alzheimer’s disease out of five different activities.
It takes less than five minutes to put on a song and lose yourself in the music. As you twist and pirouette, pay attention to how your body feels. Can you feel the tension in your muscles start to dissolve and your spirits lift?
3. Prep Your Meals Mindfully
One of the easiest ways to find time to meditate is when you’re making dinner.
Even if you spend an hour meal-prepping on weekends, you still need to gather your carefully chopped ingredients into a bowl to make a dinner salad. Use this time to practice mindfulness.
As you blend your ingredients, stop to savor the aroma of each one. How do they complement the other flavors in your dish? How do the colors blend? Read our guide to mindful eating for more on this.
4. Have a Snack
Have you read about the process of mindfully eating a raisin for five minutes or longer? While you might not linger as long over one bite, being aware of what you put in your mouth can help you control your weight without dieting.
As you eat, pay attention to the texture of the food in your mouth. Savor the flavor and tune in to your body — you’ll notice when you start feeling full.
5. Wash Your Dishes
You can make time for mindfulness by doing the dishes the mindful way.
Even if you use your dishwasher, you still need to rinse your plates. Use this time for a mini mindfulness break.
You can use this technique at the office when you feel stuck on a challenging task. Get up and wash your coffee mug thoroughly. As you do, try to focus only on the task at hand — when you distract your brain, it frees your neurons to make creative connections.
6. Organize Your Work Desk
A messy desk can have a damaging effect on your productivity. Each minute you waste looking for paperwork is less time you have to complete it. Plus, your boss and colleagues will take notice of your slovenly habits.
End your day by organizing your desk for the next morning. As you do, reflect on what went well over the past eight hours, and what you can improve to make tomorrow even better.
7. Use Your Commute
If you commute, you definitely have the time to meditate.
Do you spend your time on the road screaming in rage? You won’t make traffic move any more quickly — you’ll only increase your blood pressure.
Instead, use this time to center your attention on your breath. Do a mindfulness body scan and pay attention to how tension and a sense of urgency affect you physiologically.
8. Nurture Your Garden
Did you get into the gardening craze during the spring shutdowns? You don’t need to stop now that the weather is turning. Why not make an indoor herb garden on a sunny windowsill? Pay attention to what conditions make your plants thrive, and reflect on the benefits and flavor as you add pinches to your dishes.
9. Play With Your Child
Do you want to bond with your child? Spend more time playing with them. Coloring is a mindfulness activity that toddlers, teens and adults can enjoy together.
Another technique is to bring back the bedtime story. As you read, get into character. Notice how your voice changes as you read the dialogue and speeds up at the exciting parts.
10. Watch the Sunset
When was the last time you sat and watched the sun go down? If you can’t remember doing this in recent memory, take time to do so today.
Take a break if you are working late. If you’re at home, head to a cozy, quiet spot on your porch or balcony. Observe the changing hues as the day sinks into the night. How does the fading light impact your mood?
Use These Tips And You’ll Have Time For Meditation
Meditating helps you stay focused on the present moment, but you don’t have time to sit on a mat or go on a retreat. Embrace movement meditation and enrich your life with the 10 straightforward techniques above.
Mia Barnes is a health and wellness writer with an interest in mindfulness and meditation. She is also the Editor-in-Chief at BodyMind.com.