As I continue to seek out mindfulness in everyday life, I can still find the practice of meditation to be challenging. Even though I definitely notice a “lightness” after I complete a formal meditation session, I still have to stare it down, sometimes feeling like I’m being dragged into it.
Why is something so rewarding so hard to do each day?
I think one of the reasons so many people resist meditation is that “doing” it feels like a chore. Let’s face it… this is yet another item we have to add to our task list. While I will continue to sit and do a more formalized practice (and work on my consistency), I also need to remember that meditation has benefits even done in the smallest of time periods.
We need to sneak in a few minutes to meditate. This makes it more manageable and keeps it from feeling like a chore.
Remember, meditation doesn’t have to be sitting with your legs crossed and chanting. You really can meditate any time of day… all you need is some time to focus and the ability to breathe. You can take 5 minutes at multiple times each day. And don’t let a noisy environment detract you. One of my favorite practices is the “hearing” meditation. This has you sit with your eyes closed and asks you to deliberately pay attention to all that noise. We tend to think meditation must be quiet but that’s not true. Focusing on all the things you are hearing, really paying attention to nuances of various sounds, is a powerful way to relax your mind.
Here are a few of my sneaky ways of doing mindful meditation:
1. Sitting in a meeting, you can take one object and really focus on it. It may be artwork on the wall, a word or phrase you write on the paper in front of you (make sure it’s something that won’t be noticed by others — I was always amazed at how many people read over shoulders!), or the feel of a pen in your hand. You will still be alert and attentive to those around you but you will be practicing mindfulness in the process.
2. Listen to some sounds from nature. Whether they are naturally occurring outside your window, or they are on a CD, these sounds can transport you to a different realm. Whenever I hear birds chirping, I instantly picture a park setting with me in it.
3. Consider everyday chores in terms of mindfulness. For example, folding laundry or washing and drying dishes can have a certain rhythm, a real sense of tactility. Really embrace all that your hands are experiencing during these activities.
4. Eat without distraction. You can really focus on the food — not only the taste but smell, texture, acidity, sweetness, saltiness, etc. Chefs always talk about “mouthfeel” for a reason… really pay attention to how food feels as you eat it. Even if you are have limited time to eat, you can always practice this.
5. Walk. We all walk around in our lives, even during a busy day at the office. When I walk up and down stairs, I pay attention to the way my feet sound, how my knee cracks (I have learned to embrace it), and if my breathing quickens. Paying attention to how you walk is a wonderful way to relax.
While I was writing this, I opened the window to my office and took a few minutes to sit quietly with my eyes closed. I took some deep breaths. I heard birds chirping, some heavy equipment doing street work, a truck backing up and beeping, and dogs barking in the distance. I smelled the orange blossoms from backyard deck. I felt the cool breeze flowing every so gently through my window.