This post comes from contributor Kristen Hedges.
As a meditation teacher, I’m quite used to the excuses folks fancy up when I tell them that a bit of daily meditation would do their mind & body good.
I just don’t have time, is a common one.
But in reality, meditation doesn’t have to be the act of sitting on the floor for half an hour with legs folded and hands resting on your knees. You can transform anything into a meditation. For any act, when done mindfully, with your absolute and loving presence, becomes a meditation.
Rather than telling my students to block out a chunk of time to practice seated meditation, I tell them to first create their own meditation. That way, they don’t need to change anything in their schedule, they don’t need to find a babysitter or spend any money on a retreat – they only need to create a subtle shift in the way they look at things.
Step one: Pick something that you do every day, no matter what. It doesn’t matter what it is – brewing coffee, stepping off the front porch, walking your children to school, stepping onto the yoga mat, going for an evening run around the block – they’re all the same. But be specific. Make it something tangible. Something solid.
Step two: Close your eyes, right now, and vow to do this thing with absolute mindfulness. Vow to drop the distractions. The petty thoughts that cloud out the potential of the moment. Every day, from this moment on, this one, daily thing will become your meditation.
Step three: When it comes time to do this thing, take a moment to close your eyes. Breathe in to the count of four, and out to the count of eight. Allow the background noise in your mind to settle. Focus all of your attention to the center of your chest. Your thoughts can rest there, if it helps, like a bird finding its perch. Now, open your eyes. Practice your meditation. Stay mindful the entire way through.
For the entire drive to work, notice the birds in the sky. The way the wheel feels beneath your knuckles. For the whole cup of coffee, allow the mug to brush your lips. Smile, sip. Don’t chug. And after you’re done, notice how relaxed your body feels. Notice the subtle hum of stillness in your mind. Then, carry on with your day.
Now eventually, when you’re brewing your coffee or driving to work, your mind will feel open and clear from the start. Mindfulness will become a habit. When that happens, try adding something else. Pick another thing that you do daily, and another, and after a bit of practice, most of your day will become a living, breathing meditation. That shift in the mind will become second nature. And suddenly, things that once tied your belly in knots, like commuting to the office, or spending money at the supermarket, will have the remarkable power to heal you.