Inhale, exhale, begin to quiet your mind. Beginning meditation can be as simple as that. So why are so many people intimidated by the thought of meditating? 

You don’t have to fully enlightened to meditate, and you don’t have to have a sacred space on top of a mountain. Meditation can be done anywhere and by anyone. And, let’s be honest, just about everyone has had an experience in their lives where they are out in public, and a quick meditation would be extremely helpful. 

So what exactly is meditation? According to Merriam Webster, to meditate is “ is to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) to reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness”, yep, it’s that simple. Meditation brings your attention the here and now and helps get rid of the distractions that you’re constantly bombarded with. By slowing down and focusing on your breathing, you can let the rest of the world just melt away. It helps you pull your attention inward and truly be and feel, which in turn brings forth a sense of calm and control of your emotions.

You can stop and focus on your breathing just about anywhere, right? So, you can meditate just about anywhere! 

There are lots of meditation tools you can use to help facilitate your practice as well including:

Counting: As you focus on your breath, begin to count to twenty, one count accompanies one breath. (Example: Inhale 1, Exhale 2, Inhale 3, Exhale 4) Once you reach twenty, count to forty and slow your breathing down, only counting with every other breath. (Example Inhale,  Exhale 1, Inhale, Exhale 2) The mental counting helps you concentrate on your breathing. 

Body Scan: Imagine your at your desk and your inbox is piling up and you start to panic. Soften your gaze and deepen your breath and begin to cue your body to relax. Start from your forehead and work down your face and jaw, then move down your arms, torso, and legs. By the end of this practice, you will feel completely relaxed.

Paint a Mental Picture: Visualization can be a great way to meditate. As you close your eyes, imagine you are painting a rainbow on a big white canvas. Take your time to picture your paintbrush dipping into each color and pulling the line across the canvas until you have a complete rainbow. 

Mantras: You don’t have to know fancy Sanskrit words to create a mantra. As you breathe, internally repeat a mantra that makes sense for you. For example, you could say I am on your inhale, at peace on your exhale, or I can on your inhale, do this on your exhale. 

These are all types of meditation that you can do anywhere anytime. You can meditate when you need a five-minute break from your kids, after you have parked your car before you head into work, when you feel uncertain before an interview, or before bed to calm your mind. Meditation is a powerful tool that helps you create your own internal calm and peaceful space. I like to think of it as a superpower that keeps me grounded, in control, and able to handle anything life throws at me. 

So go meditate! Meditate at home, meditate in a park, at your desk, in your bed, literally anywhere.

**Please don’t meditate while driving, and choose a safe space where you are aware of your surroundings for safety reasons.**

About the author

Cassidy Ricalde always found healing powers in the movement of the body. Growing up as a classical dancer, she found yoga and barre to be a way to tie together body and soul. She completed her 200-hour Yoga-Teacher certification at Flow Yoga in DC and did an apprenticeship with Ease Yoga in Alexandria. You can find out about Cassidy here



“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.

Further reading:

http://www.feelguide.com/2014/11/19/harvard-unveils-mri-study-proving-meditation-literally-rebuilds-the-brains-gray-matter-in-8-weeks/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/11/11/meditation-reduces-stress-harvard-study_n_6109404.html

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/272833.php

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/05/12/exercising-the-mind-to-treat-attention-deficits/?_r=0

 

Featured photo credit: Georgie Sharp via photopin cc

 

Narissa-Doumani-profile-pic-Leaders-in-HeelsNarissa Doumani
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.