“I’d love to meditate but I don’t have the time!” is a phrase I hear often, and it comes as no surprise. When our days are crammed full of commitments and responsibilities, as they so often are, sitting in quiet stillness can be the first thing that gets pushed to the bottom of the to-do list.
However, a meditation practice has the potential to benefit our mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing, and increase clarity and contentment. Is that really the sort of thing that we, the over-scheduled, can afford to keep putting off for later?
Fortunately, there are strategies that even the busiest people can use to build a regular practice. There’s no need to wait until your calendar is clear and circumstances feel perfect (because, let’s face it, it’ll never happen). Ultimately, the most important thing about a meditation practice is that you start—no matter how imperfect the circumstances may seem.
So here’s 6 ways busy people make time for meditation:
1. Be Realistic
Don’t set yourself up for failure. Start with short sessions and build from there. Some meditation teachers point out that five minutes a day is better than waiting until you have time to sit for an hour (and then finding you never have a spare hour). Like so many things in life, regularity fosters strength of practice, so make time for a daily sit, even if it’s a short one. I haven’t met a person yet who couldn’t spare five minutes a day!
Ultimately, the most important thing about a meditation practice is that you start
2. Build It Into Your Routine
Try setting aside a little time first thing in the morning and last thing at night. Make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth. Even if it’s only for five to ten minutes at a time, you might be surprised at how it can positively influence the quality of your whole day.
3. Utilise Small Pockets of Time
Every moment counts. Don’t discount the significance of regular mini-meditations throughout your day; they can be surprisingly transformative. Be on the lookout for opportunities. If you arrive early to an appointment, for example, you could use those spare few minutes to meditate. Or if you drive to work, you could sit for one minute before starting the car and another minute before getting out of the car.
Make it part of your daily routine, like brushing your teeth
4. Set Reminders
Another way to create regularity of practice is to set an external reminder. For instance, I’ve known people to set their phone to chime on the hour or set an alert on their computer. You don’t need to interrupt the flow of your workday, just take a few moments to lightly bring your attention to your breath. Afterwards, gently return your focus back to what you were doing. See if you notice a difference in your mental state and energy levels throughout the day.
5. Be Adaptable
It’s wonderful to have a dedicated space for sitting practice. I love personalising mine with the right cushion, some inspiring photos, and I often light a candle too. But the perfect space isn’t always available when we want it, so we need to find alternatives.
Wherever you can sit undisturbed, even for a few minutes, can be a place to practice meditation
When I’m travelling, I’ll pack a few of those inspiring photos and set them up on the coffee table in my hotel room. There have been times I’ve made use of a park bench, or a chair by a window with the sun streaming in. Wherever you can sit undisturbed, even for a few minutes, can be a place to practice meditation, so look around and be creative.
6. Drop Your Judgements
So you got caught up in your busy schedule and missed a day (or ten) of meditation practice. It doesn’t make you a bad meditator. It doesn’t mean you can’t sustain a regular practice. Instead of judging yourself (because that’s the most sure-fire way to give up altogether) just pick up where you left off, or start over with an easy commitment, like five or ten minutes a day. It needn’t be harder than that.
Instead of judging yourself, just pick up where you left off
So you see, building a regular meditation practice is achievable for even the busiest among us. If you start with an achievable amount of practice each day, you might soon find yourself looking forward to time on the cushion (or wherever it is you practise), and that you’re inspired to sit for even longer periods.
I encourage you to give it a go, wherever you are, with however much time you can manage, and see for yourself the benefits it can bring.
Narissa is an author, presenter, commercial model, and an avid practitioner of meditation and mindfulness. She shares the intimate details of her practice and personal search for meaning in her book, A Spacious Life: Memoir of a Meditator. Find out more and download a free guided meditation at her website or connect with her on Facebook.