I love the part about meditating on a noisy train in the excerpt I share below. This is something I often do, that is, meditate in places people don’t conceive of being appropriate spaces. Meditation is much more about being wherever you are fully in the moment then it is about being in a silent place with no distractions.
While being in a silent place with no distractions can certainly be lovely, healing and necessary at times, it should not rule out practicing mindfulness anywhere and everywhere. Once you learn more mindfulness meditation it can be practiced while doing EVERYTHING including and especially during mundane tasks such as washing the dishes. It can transform those tasks into experiencing life deeply even while doing things you might have at one point thought of just as a chore.
Interested in trying meditation, but still don’t think you have the time? Beginning meditation isn’t as difficult as you might think. So, without taking any more of your time, here are five ways to fit much-needed meditation into your schedule.
1. Keep it short. You don’t have to set aside half an hour; you can start to feel the benefits with even a few minutes of regular meditation. Most advice on meditation for beginners suggests that you start with only 5 minutes.
2. Have a focus. If you don’t think you can focus while sitting with your eyes closed, it’s okay to focus on an intricate object or a candle flame. Or you can close your eyes and listen to music. The important part for beginners is to be in the moment, rather than thinking about your to-do list.
3. Have a regular time – or take time right before you go to bed. Even if you don’t go to bed at a regular time, you can always make time right before you sleep. Your sleepiness might even help your meditation, clearing your mind. And your meditation will certainly help you relax so that you fall asleep faster and sleep better.
4. Try some quick exercise and stretching beforehand. If it’s hard to shift gears from paying bills to meditating, try a very quick exercise routine. It can be as a short as a few push ups and then holding some basic stretches for 10-20 seconds each.
5. Take meditation time where you find it. After a full day of work, heading to my three-hour evening class (and then to helping a friend with a late-night art project), I realized my best bet for mediation time was the train. Of course it wasn’t the best of surroundings, and I was distracted. But I sat down, meditated to the screech of the train instead of to music and left the train much more relaxed and energetic than I had entered it. Take what you can get!
Meditation is about seeing clearly the body that we have, the mind that we have, the domestic situation that we have, the job that we have, and the people who are in our lives. It’s about seeing how we react to all these things. It’s seeing our emotions and thoughts just as they are right now, in this very moment, in this very room, on this very seat. It’s about not trying to make them go away, not trying to become better than we are, but just seeing clearly with precision and gentleness…[We] work with cultivating gentleness, innate precision, and the ability to let go of small-mindedness, learning how to open to our thoughts and emotions, to all the people we meet in our world, how to open our minds and hearts. — Pema Chödrön from The Wisdom of No Escape and the Path of Loving-Kindness
Seeing clearly can be a very difficult feat in a culture where we are taught to deny so much of our being. Finding ourselves again, though, is incredibly well worth the time and effort put into learning to do so.
Meditation is the practice of learning to pay attention. That is all.
Paying attention can be a very difficult feat in a culture where we are taught to deny so much of our being. Finding ourselves again, though, is incredibly well worth the time and effort put into learning to do so. Also it’s not always about sitting cross-legged. Pay attention, mindfulness, can be brought into every moment of our lives and in fact in the end that’s really what it’s all about.
Posts on Beyond Meds that explore the nature of meditation:
- Science of mindlessness and mindfulness… Take note that Ellen Langer is very clear about the fact that sitting meditation is not the only way to become mindful. I love how she doesn’t attach any particular belief system or set of practices with becoming mindful. There are many ways to pay attention as I’ve tried to make clear many times on this blog but since I do have my particular ways that I talk about frequently that may sometimes overshadow a larger message some of the time. We can all find a way that makes sense to us. Individually.
- The foundation of healing mental distress and of becoming a mature human adult – I’ve collected posts on this page that speak to embracing the full spectrum of our emotional inheritance as human beings. I’ve found that without acknowledging and integrating the darkest part of our psyches we cannot heal. We also cannot become fully mature adult human beings. One need not be labeled “mentally ill” or be sick for this to be an important part of our life’s work. Learning how to do this involves a lot of “paying attention.”
- Meditation, not all bliss and roses – A very common misunderstanding about meditation that can lead to discouragement is that it’s supposed to be all bliss and roses. That is simply not the case on the ground, so to speak. Sometimes meditation is about being with the dark and ugly and anxious parts of our being too. Meditation is about being with the whole spectrum of human psyche and emotion. We cannot know ourselves without becoming intimate with those parts too. That means it’s just not always fun or peaceful or calm to practice meditation. Though it can lead to all those things in time. It can help us learn to live more skillfully in general.
- Life as a meditation: my contemplative adventure — ”Formal” meditation — the kind where you set aside a specific time and sit on a cushion…I don’t do anymore and haven’t since I’ve been seriously ill. First it became impossible, but then I found another way of meditating deeply. What happened with my illness is that I learned that formal meditation is not always necessary for everyone, though I did start with more formal sitting years ago and it’s likely that it’s a good place to start, in general, if at all possible.
- Inhabiting our bodies in meditation — As we engage our somatic crisis, whatever it may be, we realize that embodied meditation is a very different and far more fruitful way to practice than the disembodied path we have been following. But this leaves us wondering just how to carry out our meditation in an embodied manner and inhabit our body in practice. Most fundamentally, meditating with the body involves paying attention to the body in a direct and non-conceptual way.
- Body-Centered Inquiry — This program deepens this capacity of allowance. Allowing oneself to feel more. He uses a process called RAIN — a practice for meeting all experience with acceptance, kindness and compassion. There are also forgiveness practices and body scans and much more. It’s an incredibly rich collection
- Healing somatic meditation (welcoming prayer)
- Somatic Wisdom Technique Part 1
- How long should I stay with uncomfortable feelings?
- There is nothing unique about our suffering. (Tonglen, a compassion practice)