Do you find yourself wanting to meditate? Wouldn't it be fantastic if you could dim the lights, switch on some aromatherapy, and pop your fashionable activewear tooshie on a velvet pouf while you crack your heart open with chanting? Intellectually, yes. But, what if your daily lifestyle has no room for an hour of solitary sit down, let alone five minutes? Does this mean that you will never attain enlightenment? Well, gods of blitz - I know that you know that I know that you know that this is all wrong!
First off, understand that there are no rules of practice. You don't get extra points from the universe for how long you can sit still. Meditation also isn't about becoming a different person or for that matter, even a better version of yourself. You will not be judged if you don't turn off your thoughts or feelings. I've been practicing since I was a teenager, and I still have times when my mind wanders, or I forget to pace my breath. Mindfulness is about cultivating awareness and giving yourself a healthy dose of perspective. Aim for consistency of practice and take perfection out of the equation. This practice is your personal chance to tune inward and be fully engaged in whatever you are doing in the moment.
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So, let's put this all together now and chat about how to meditate on the go. I entirely empathize with those that experience time struggle. Maybe you're the mother continually juggling partner, children, and work, maybe the student balancing classes or maybe like me, you wear multiple work hats while also running a home. Please celebrate how extraordinary you are to manage what you do and don't get caught up in the comparison game. Use meditation to slow down, let go of that which is no longer necessary, and find more presence within yourself. Instead of worrying about where to fit in time for meditation, focus on fitting meditation into your current lifestyle routine.
Walking is one of the best activities you can do for yourself. As you’re walking, try to release thoughts from your mind. Instead focus on your surroundings. Truly intake your surroundings. Whether it be the trees/shrubs or people's homes, enjoy being a looky-loo. Stare upward and appreciate the view you may not enjoy as often, tune into your breathing, put attention into the soles of your feet so that you actually feel the sensation of walking, and be more aware of your inhales/exhales. If you are out walking your dog, or strolling with your child then experiment with matching your stride to the dogs/stroller while walking as you move slower/faster and they match you or vice versa. Most of all, be in the moment and don’t worry about how many minutes you succeed with it.
As much as you can, keep the phone off when you are driving to/from work. Instead, use this drive to listen to music, switching it up often so that you aren’t just listening to soothing music, but also whatever are your favorites that literally make you want to sing along too and blast the music. Find your own pace with this. Audiobooks are another alternative because, as you are listening to the author, you are letting go of your thoughts and transferring your attention to the storyline.
I know that cleaning or cooking aren't generally the most soothing times, but snatch the opportunities when you can to put awareness into the actual tasks that you are doing. As you cut and prepare the food, truly observe the colors, textures, and applications of each step. While you are cleaning release your thoughts and instead focus on the sensation of putting things in place which in turn streamlines your surroundings and creates space/freedom for you.
Use your shower time to focus on the sound of the water and the sensation of it pouring down on you, Be mindful as you bath yourself and wash your hair so that it’s more of a ritual to which you feel every sensation and appreciate that you are cleaning away the past. At the same time, you nourish yourself for those minutes. Just touching your own body can be so powerful. Let the water pour onto your heart space, too, because this is one of the easiest ways that you can cleanse/open yourself.
If you have children and aren’t already giving them massages, then start. Not only is it beneficial to them to do so before a sleeping period, but it’s also powerfully soothing for you because it’s an exchange of energy. Remember that it’s not just you that gives to your children, but also your children are here to give back to you. Start at the feet (massage heels to each of the toes and concentrate on the space that apexes into a triangle under the pad of each foot), move up the legs, tummy clockwise strokes, then arms, head, and last the heart space taking a moment to place one hand on your heart and one on the child you are massaging. Truly visualize the energy passing back and forth, heart to heart.
Lastly, if you are like me, then you probably wake up in the middle of the night or at a different point than your partner. No worries if he/she is sound asleep, but as you are falling back asleep, try to breathe deeply once again, counting your inhales/exhales and focusing on your heart space and your partner's. Listen to to your partner's breathing (unless it's snoring - than ignore that LOL), but this quiet time is wonderful to appreciate your partnership. Also, don’t be afraid to ask your partner to give you foot, hand, tummy, or any other type of massage. You do so much, and it's vital for you to feel the sensation of receiving back to yourself.
Photo Credits: Alonso Zevallos and Leah Jonas