Have you ever wanted to start a daily meditation practice but rejected the idea because you felt short on time? Maybe you actually got as far as sitting quietly for 15 or 20 minutes a day, but quickly found yourself feeling stressed because it was just “one more thing” on your to-do list?
While focused meditation sessions can be beneficial, they are not always necessary in order to create a peaceful state of mind. Instead, try shifting yourself into a meditative state consistently all day long.
Here are a few simple ways to do so:
1) First, consider creating a mantra that you can recite when you begin to feel stressed. Think about your daily activities and consider which of them usually cause the most stress. Do you frequently feel pressured by a heavy workload and tight deadlines? Good mantras for that situation might be, “I always have more than enough time to complete my work,” or “I am always focused and productive,” or “I always finish my work easily and on time.”
Once you have your mantra, all that’s left to do is recite it mentally throughout the day. Even more importantly, be sure to adopt the FEELING that goes along with the words. Do so especially when you notice yourself starting to feel tense or scattered. You can even create general mantras to use any time, such as, “All is well. I am at peace. I am calm and centered.”
2) Take advantage of silence as often as you can! Many people think that meditation has to include the act of tying their body in knots and sitting perfectly still for a few hours, but meditation is really about quieting your THOUGHTS. And one major cause of scattered thoughts is external noise and distraction.
Think about all of the noise you encounter from outside sources on a daily basis. Telephones ringing, pagers beeping, cell phones ringing or vibrating, email notifications chiming, traffic whooshing by (or crawling along with plenty of horns blaring), people demanding your attention, televisions and radios droning in the background wherever you go, and so on. And in the midst of all that, your poor mind is trying desperately to focus on important tasks, remember chores and errands that must be done, and more. And you wonder why you feel so exhausted and scattered every day!
There’s no way to completely eliminate external distractions, but you can make it a habit to take advantage of silence whenever possible. Turn off your car radio while you drive to and from work. Have lunch in a nearby park instead of a loud cafe. You can even slip into the rest room for two minutes just to center yourself and breathe deeply if you have no other options!
3) Finally, slow down your pace with everything you do. Most of us are used to rushing so we can accomplish as much as possible each day, but rushing itself just creates more stress. Ironically, the more stressed we are, the more scattered our thoughts and the less productive we are.
Instead, make it a habit to move at a moderate pace as often as you can. You might be thinking that you’ll end up getting less done, but usually the opposite ends up being true! Slowing down allows you to focus better on your tasks. You’ll be able to think more clearly and avoid making mistakes that would require still more time to fix.
These techniques do take a bit of practice to master, so be patient with yourself. Adopting a meditative mind-set is a moment-to-moment process of recognizing when you feel stressed and making a conscious choice to shift back into a state of peace and well-being.