How to Meditate (Even If You Can’t Sit Still For A Minute)
Ways to use everyday activities for your mindfulness practice.
Posted Feb 26, 2016
As my life has gotten busier and busier over the years, my meditation practice has changed. A lot.
Once I became a working mom, I found it hard to fit my daily 30-minute sitting meditation practice into my schedule. So now, I multitask my meditation.
What?! Wait - isn’t that the exact opposite of what meditation is all about?
Well, yes, and no.
The idea behind mindfulness meditation is to be fully present in the moment, and to observe whatever you notice in that moment with acceptance and a non-judgmental stance.
Although a formal meditation (think sitting on a cushion with your legs crossed) is the most traditional way to practice, there are also other informal ways to practice (read more about informal meditation here). Walking meditation, yoga, and even sweeping the floor, can all be used as informal mindfulness activities.
So how do I do it? I start my day every morning with a mindful shower.
I thought that some of my best thinking was happening in the shower but when I stopped and really paid attention to what was going on, I realized that actually my best worrying was happening in the shower. I was not doing effective problem solving or planning, and this worrying was setting me up to be distracted and on edge for the rest of day.
I had two problems that needed solving: finding a time to meditate because my usual routine wasn’t working and figuring out how to stop worrying my way through my shower each day. And then I had my a-ha moment!
Since then, my daily shower has become my regular informal meditation practice. Instead of worrying and running through my to-do list, I start by taking a moment to stand still in the water and simply follow my breath. Next I expand my focus to include my breathing body.
Then the core of my practice is paying full attention to the act of taking a shower. When I find my mind wandering to anything other than the sensations and actions of showering, I gently bring it back to my breath—just like I would in a formal sitting meditation.
Now that this is part of my daily routine, I no longer begin my day by worrying and planning. Instead, I start each day with a calm, clear mind and this allows me to set the intention of bringing mindfulness to the rest of my day.
If you’re tempted to skip meditating because you’re just too busy, give this a try. Pick any activity that’s part of your everyday life and use the time as a mindfulness practice. The great news is that you’ll still get many of the benefits of meditation with an informal practice. And even better, once you’ve begun living with more mindful presence, you just might find that you actually can carve out some time for a formal practice too.
If you have other activities that you use for an informal practice please leave a comment below so we can share new ideas with each other.
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© 2016, Erin Olivo, PhD