In a world that pushes us to go and go and go, demands on our time are becoming greater. We’ve got to hurry up and get out the door to work only to sit and wait in traffic. We’ve got to rush through dinner to get the kids to soccer practice, where we have to sit and wait for them to finish. We’ve got to hustle to get the grocery shopping done, so we can be home in time for our favorite tv show, all while we’re checking our smart phones to keep up with our friends or work.
We try to squeeze more and more into every day. Try to juggle more and more, cram more into every hour. With all this hurry and hustle, how can we make the time to center ourselves? How can we slow the world down?
Well, I’ve been thinking about that while I’ve been going through my week, going to the pharmacy, the grocery store, soccer games and work.
And what I’ve found is that there’s plenty of time throughout the day that we can take advantage of to meditate and help center ourselves. I noticed that there were many short periods of time throughout the day when I didn’t have anything to do but wait. Now sometimes, these periods were as short as just 3 to 4 minutes, but I found that performing multiple mini-meditations over the course of a day was very beneficial to me.
WAITING IN LINE
I’ve found that the act of waiting in line is a great opportunity to slow down and do a simple meditation. I’ve done it waiting in line at the pharmacy, at the checkout line in the grocery store, even waiting to punch the timeclock at work. Whether doing a breathing exercise or repeating a mantra over and over to myself, I’ve found putting small bits of effort into meditation whenever and wherever I have the time to be particularly satisfying. I’m taking moments of time that would otherwise most likely be wasted and taking them back for myself.
Doing this feels good and is good for me. It’s refreshing to take a small pause in the day and relax mindfully. I’m able to reset my mind and keep myself more aware of what I’m doing and how I’m doing it. It almost feels like I’m sharpening my mindfulness practice. This brings me back to myself if I’ve strayed and it helps remind me to be more mindful in what I’m doing afterwards. If I’m at home or on the way home, it allows me to enjoy and appreciate what’s coming more fully. If I’m at work, it helps me be more deliberate and mindful about the task in front of me.
The same practice works just as well if you’ve got a little bit more time on your hands, say 10 to 30 minutes. Could be you’re waiting to pick your child up from school, waiting at a soccer practice or piano lesson, any of these cases are opportunities to meditate and practice mindfulness.
Again, breathing practice and mantras will work well here if you like going that route. Something else I like to do when I have a little bit more time on my hands is to practice what I think of as observational mindfulness. I breathe for a bit to settle myself into my surroundings, then I just carefully observe what is going on around me through all of my senses. I make note of what I see, hear and feel. I might watch children at play, wildlife in its natural surroundings, the trees and the landscape. I can do this for as long as I’d like. I find it to be a very calming and centering exercise for me. It helps me raise my level of awareness and helps me be more mindful in everyday life.