The short answer is — yes!
Even if you only have a few minutes, you can practice meditation and reap the benefits.
In fact, some experts say it’s more beneficial to practice for only 10 minutes each and every day than to practice for an hour once a week. I’ve found this to be true. Although I would love to sit in quiet contemplation for an hour every day, that isn’t realistic right now. I take whatever serenity I can get!
Meditation provides many benefits and strengthens the mind-body connection. One benefit I’m especially grateful for is that meditation also improves mindfulness.
So how do we find the time? How do we practice? And what the heck do I mean by mindfulness?
What I mean by mindfulness is a state of relaxed awareness in which we relax control of our conscious mind. We let our thoughts drift through our consciousness like fluffy clouds drifting across the sky.
We don’t hold on to them. We don’t try to change them. We just let them go. In this way, we still both our bodies and our minds. Not perfectly, of course, but enough that some of our tension, anxiety, and distractedness drift away, at least for a while. Over time we can learn to apply mindfulness to situations that occur outside of our meditation. When I do this I feel more centered and less prone to distractions.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. But first we need to find the time.
Finding the time to meditate
I was surprised by how easily I found openings in my day, once I decided to do so. It turns out there were many moments waiting to be filled with a little bit of serenity and calm:
- in line at the grocery store;
- at my desk between tasks;
- washing the dishes.
I find longer stretches in these kinds of moments:
- on walks in the park;
- in the early morning when everything is still quiet;
- when I turn off the TV and computer.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness. I’m going to describe how I do it, but if this doesn’t work for you there are many other methods and a wealth of information online. I provide links to some free online resources below.
7 steps to practicing mindfulness
- Start by taking several deep breaths. If you’re feeling tense, roll your shoulders or clench and unclench your fists a few times.
- Decide how long you’re going to meditate, whether it’s 2 minutes, 10 minutes, or longer. (Some people set a timer. I just peek at my watch from time to time.)
- If you’re comfortable doing so, close your eyes. If not, find something to look at and soften your gaze so you’re not staring. Some people like to gaze at a candle flame.
- Focus on the physical sensation of breathing. Follow each breath in and out, from the very beginning all the way to the end.
- Scan your body for tension, and where you find it, relax your muscles.
- When thoughts pop into your head (and they will!), just let them go (you might visualize those big fluffy clouds drifting by), and gently bring your attention back to the breath.
- When the time is up, slowly bring your mind back to the present, and take several deep breaths.
That’s it. That doesn’t seem too hard, does it? You could even try it out right now.
Free online meditation Resources
UCLA’s Mindful Awareness Research Center offers free guided meditations on their website.
The Free Mindfulness Project offers mindfulness meditation exercises you can download free of charge.
For beginner’s, here’s a video on YouTube produced by AudioEntrainment that offers 5 easy steps to meditation.
When I can, I sit in mediation for longer stretches. Sometimes for 20 minutes twice a day, sometimes for a longer period once a day. It all depends on what else I have to fit into my schedule. With all the other things I have to worry about, finding time to meditate doesn’t have to stress me out. Remember, even small doses of meditation are helpful.
I’d love to hear from you. Do you meditate? How do you find time? How do you practice?