In the peaceful existence of a monk, far away from the hectic pace of the city, meditation is an exercise that allows philosophy to flourish. It trains the mind and hones the intellectual skill of those seeking to answer the universe’s mysteries.
For the modern working westerner, it’s very different. It still trains the mind and goes some way towards honing intellectual skills. But rather than tackle existential secrets, it is mostly used to break away from direct stressors and to relax the mind and body before taking on another day.
Often, the time someone might want to spend meditating is taken up some other way. Whether that’s because they’d rather be doing something they consider more productive or they’ve just got too heavy a workload to just sit for fifteen minutes, meditation is one of those things that gets pushed to the side more often than not.
But you want to refresh your mind more often, but can’t make time for meditation in your busy schedule, don’t worry too much. You can still generate similar positive effects from other things you do in your free time by applying a meditative attitude to any hobby.
Hobbies allow you to take a break from the real world and to focus your energies on something completely separate. It allows you, temporarily, to forget your arguments and your efforts and your stresses and apply yourself wholly to something more positive that is inherently your own.
That is, in effect, the basic purpose of western meditation.
If you apply a meditative attitude to your hobbies, you can experience a good amount of its benefits without having to fiddle around with your schedule.
Make sure that whatever you’re filling your time with takes up all of your attention. Block out the sounds of the outside world. Make sure any background sound you put on doesn’t distract you too much. Calm music is great. Loud and complex TV shows, not so much. Turn off your phone if you feel like it’ll be a distraction. Or even if you don’t. It’s still a good idea until you’ve disciplined yourself enough to resist it. No one who needs to contact you will be too put out by having to wait half an hour or so. Keep away from social media if you really want to be able to concentrate on something.
As much as you can, keep your mind clear of everything that isn’t your chosen pastime. Focus on one thing and put all your energy into it. Any nagging thoughts you might have about your work or your friends or your washing up or whatever else you might have pestering the back of your mind right now can wait.
This is time for you and you alone.
You deserve at least that.