Have you ever been advised to “meditate”? Perhaps by a friend, a colleague or even your doctor? Several well-known leaders in the personal transformation field including Oprah, Deepak Chopra, and Wayne Dyer advocate that we get present, breathe, and meditate. We may hear this advice and believe that meditation is useful, but for some of us there is a preconceived notion of what it means to meditate. And for others of us it is a matter of feeling like there just aren’t enough hours in the day.
During my years of studying the different forms of meditation and ancient techniques from gurus and teachers in India I learned that there are many levels of meditation and a variety of techniques. While “sitting” is surely one of them, we practiced walking, movement, dancing, singing and even cooking as meditation. The goal was to infuse a meditative quality into our everyday lives. Simply stated, getting present and being mindful.
Instead of measuring “quiet time” by how many minutes or hours you meditate, why not begin by slowly introducing gentle “pauses” into your life and beginning a journey of presence, mindfulness and meditation right now? There are many opportunities to make meditation an integral part of your day. The benefits of even 5 minutes of meditation or bringing the meditative quality into your day far outweigh the obstacles to getting there. And if you are curious about those obstacles, you might like to read further about the 5 Myths That Keep You From Meditating.
Why not begin with this simple exercise? Just take a small pause right now and ask yourself –
• What does my present moment look like?
• What does my present moment feel like right now?
There is no one more qualified than you to answer these questions. Every time you pause during your day to check in, you are taking advantage of the magical, always present opportunity to connect to something deeper. Your journey of healing and transformation is unique to you and your truth is always right there, awaiting your curiosity. It always has been. The question is – have you been able to slow down and get present to that? Get present to YOU?
I have found that infinite opportunities for balance and meditation are hidden in plain sight. Some of the times that you might have been meditating and didn’t even realize it could have been while you were doing any over the following activities:
• doing the dishes
• dancing, singing
• playing with your child
• reading, writing
• working out, running, walking, hiking
This list can go on. The possibilities are limitless. If you allow it, you can use almost anything as an opportunity to get present and be mindful. Every time you walk through a doorway, you could choose to practice this simple meditation offered by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Breathing – I know that I am breathing in; Breathing – I know that I am breathing out.” Try to frame your concept of meditation in terms of living a more conscious life in this moment.
Some helpful reminders:
• Create a time block when you are not checking email and social media alerts during the day. Meal time is an ideal time to break the interruption-driven cycle we have grown so accustomed to and would give you the opportunity to be present with the food that nourishes you – notice the the textures and the flavors. Savor each bite. Pay attention to the conversations and take your time to listen.
• Observe your surroundings. While driving, running, biking, hiking or even walking through the grocery store. Pay attention to faces, make eye contact, smile and acknowledge others in the same physical space as you.
It sounds really basic and simple. And in these little moments of connection with people and nature, you begin dropping deeper within yourself. You create a ripple effect from within by getting present in these simplest of ways. The cumulative effects of the many subtle moments create balance and a profound sense of peace within you. As Dr. Maya Angelou tweeted four days before she passed, “Listen to yourself and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”
Think of one simple thing you can do right now to introduce a meditative quality into your day. And please don’t forget to share this one simple thing in the comments below!