Just because you don’t have a weekend to go to a retreat or a full 30 minutes to devote to silence, breathing, and opening your mind on a daily basis, that doesn’t mean you can’t take back a little bit of your sanity by incorporating meditation into your life.
I’ve found that starting the morning off or utilizing those first few minutes of naptime (you know, after the kiddos have stopped protesting and you haven’t had to dive back into something else quite yet) work very well for helping me maintain my composure during stressful daysâ€”or even just normal days with normal demands.
Just taking five to 10 minutes (15 if possible) can make you calmer, more creative, and more able to take whatever life dishes out. Just as you should get your body moving every day in order to maintain its health (and your sanity), it’s a good idea to still your mind for the same rejuvenating effects.
You can do this lying down or sitting up. You can do it first thing in the morning, before ever getting out of bed.
Decide how long you want to meditate and set an alarm. Choose a tone that will gently let you know time’s up, not the blaring “GET UP NOW” horn that some people like to use for mornings (that’ll ruin any kind of Zen you’ve been able to achieve).
When you first start out, a minute could feel like an hour and you don’t want to keep snapping out of it to check your clock. The alarm will also wake you back up if you happen to fall asleep (also likely at first).
Because it can be difficult to automatically empty your mind, even first thing in the morning with that mile-long to-do list swirling in your head, just start by closing your eyes and taking deep breaths. Imagine that you can see the air entering your lungs through your nose and exiting through your mouth. Focus on how it feels to fill your lungs with the air.
If your mind starts to wanderâ€”and it willâ€”don’t give up. Just acknowledge those thoughts and gently remind yourself that you’ll think of the dishes, the bills, etc, in 10 minutes or so, when youâ€™re done. Bring your focus back to your breath so those thoughts fade away. Eventually, you’ll get to the point where you’re aware of those thoughts, but you’re not distracted by them.
By practicing meditation for 10-15 minutes per day, you may find that you’re able to snap back to that centered, calmer mindset any time something unpleasant happens, like a huge mess, a tantrum (even in public!), or an unexpected bill. For more tips, check out The Conscious Life.
Photo credit: joshfassbind