You want to start a meditation practice … but …
- You have to be at the office early
- Your kids need to get to day-care
- You need to make breakfast—and dinner
- You are always running late
- You like to work out in the morning
These excuses are all valid because you have a busy life. You probably have a suitcase full of other excuses that are also valid. But guess what? You still have time to meditate.
Everyone can find time if they make it a priority. If Oprah Winfrey finds 20 minutes twice a day to sit in stillness, you can spare a few minutes, too—even a few minutes is better than none.
Here are eight ways you can squeeze a meditation into your day, no matter how packed it is with to-dos. I use fairly arbitrary time references throughout this article, so feel free to substitute “20 minutes” for “30 minutes” if you can swing it. Or substitute “10 minutes” with “five minutes” if that’s all you have. Even one or two minutes of meditation each day could make a world of difference in your emotional state and mindset.
You may continue to think of another excuse, but there aren’t any good ones when you’re given permission to simplify and adjust meditation to your busy life.
Get Up, Then Sit Back Down
You may already wake up earlier than you want to. But if you get up just 20 (or 10, or five …) minutes earlier—and sit to meditate as soon as you wake up—you’ll bring your peaceful state into the entire day.
If this still sounds overwhelming, start with a small commitment. Wake up five minutes earlier than you normally would, and follow these steps:
- Get out of bed
- Take care of your bodily functions (Pee, grab a drink of water ...)
Deepak Chopra says the best time to meditate is as soon as you get up and after you take care of your bodily functions—don't think about it—just get up and sit down to meditate ... even if it's just for five minutes. Once you feel good about it and it’s a part of your routine, you can increase the time.
The important part is doing it as soon as you wake up. If you check your email or tend to something else before your meditation, there’s a good chance your five minutes will be gone.
Right After Work
Got a commute? If you take time to meditate before you hop in the car, your commute home will be a more pleasant experience. Or if you find the commute home stress-inducing, you can plan your meditation as soon as you get home from work. It’ll ease the transition between work and home life.
During Your Lunch Break
If you begin to pair your meditation with lunch, pretty soon, you’ll think of meditation when you eat lunch, and it will become a trigger for you. Find a quiet nook in or around the office and carve out a slice of your lunchtime to sit in stillness to make it a habit.
Schedule a 10-minute break on your calendar. If you work in front of the computer, you can put it on your Outlook calendar so you’ll be prompted. If you work at an office, tell your coworkers about it so they can support your silence.
There are some cool smart phone apps out there that help schedule your meditations and keep you on track. Here are a few recommended apps for meditation on-the-go:
- Headspace: Customized reminders, buzzers, check-ins and meditations
- The Mindfulness App: Set reminders to tell you when it’s time to meditate, get mindfulness notices, and find guided meditations ranging from 3 to 30 minutes
- Insight Timer: Sets customized timers, bells, intervals, and track your progress
Take One Minute, Five Times a Day
Still don’t think you have five minutes? I bet you have one. If you sit for one minute (you can even set a timer so you don’t lose track of time) and focus on your breath: deep inhales and slow exhales, you will calm your mind and create a more peaceful state. Try to schedule one-minute windows throughout your day. Here are some ideas on where to find a minute:
- Right when you wake up
- Right when you get to work before diving into the day
- Between meetings
- After Lunch
- Right before you leave work
- Before dinner
- Before bed
When Stress Is Triggered
As soon as you notice stress begin to rise, or the feeling that you are running out of time, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths. That quiet moment will slow down your thoughts, settle your state, and allow you to focus on action items instead of the thoughts that you have too much to do.
Focus on Your Breath, Mid-Activity
If you’re still convinced that you’re too busy to sit down and meditate—try this trick. Next time you are alone on a train, doing dishes, cleaning your house, waiting on line, or even in the shower, tune into your internal space by focusing on your breath. If you have control of the music, turn it down or off. Tune everything else out so you can fully listen to your breath while tackling a methodical task from your to-do list.
Just Do It
If you find yourself indecisive on whether or not to meditate on a given day, don’t think about it. Just sit down and close your eyes. Even if it’s only for a minute, it will be enough.
We can all relate to not having enough time in life, but the crazy thing is, we actually find we have more time when we meditate because we’re more productive. We live in a culture where we are constantly “running out of time,” and plagued with the busy syndrome. Being too busy is almost a badge of honor.
Meditation is one answer to this problem. It slows down the mind and heart rate, relieves those feelings of urgency, and increases your capacity to resist distractions. In this digital age, we all face thousands of distractions every day, impeding our ability to focus on our top priorities. Meditation helps to combat this and make us more productive.
Now that you know meditating helps us to focus on what’s most important, resist distraction, and ultimately make us more productive. Do you still think you don’t have time?