While fitting a workout into our busy schedules can seem tough, adding meditation can seem downright impossible. Who has the time?
But what if there was a way to harness the benefits of a daily meditation practice in only a few short minutes? What if I told you that meditation was something you could do in the shower, or in line at Starbucks, or in seat 49A, row 20 en route to a business trip? And what if, meditation was something that could enhance your physical workouts, not only your mental stamina?
The truth is, meditation is all of these things. Even busy people can find ways to incorporate it into their schedules and reap the benefits.
What is meditation?
It is the practice of focusing your attention on a single point in order to bring yourself into the present moment. This can mean sitting in a quiet room focusing on your breathing. It can mean latching your mind onto a single phrase or word (a mantra) or even paying close attention to your bodily sensations. Meditation can be still or with movement.
From a scientific standpoint, the act of meditating engages a part of the brain called the pre-frontal cortex, which controls executive functions like attention span, learning, memory and emotional regulation.
Why is it helpful?
Meditation’s benefits are numerous. To name just a few:
- Decreases anxiety and depression.
- Helps us deal more effectively with stress.
- Boosts our bodies’ immune systems.
- Helps us focus better, longer.
- Eases inflammation in the body.
- Improves memory.
- Allows creativity to flow.
- Makes us better multi-taskers.
- Improves levels of happiness.
- Can boost our physical workouts (which we will look at more in-depth in future blogs).
Ideas for meditation on-the-go.
Studies show that even short periods of meditation, if done regularly, can be more beneficial than if done for extended periods of time but only occasionally. This is good news for those of us with only a few minutes a day to spare.
The first thing you want to do is fully commit yourself to a regular, daily meditation practice. In order to experience the full range of benefits, give yourself a timeframe (say, 30 days) to make it a habit. Next, pick a time of day to engage your mind fully. Sync up your mindfulness practice with something that you do consistently anyway. For example:
Beditate – Upon the first five minutes of waking, without even getting out of bed, set your phone timer and focus quietly on your breathing. Boom, done for the day.
Cardio – If you have a regular cardio routine in place, commit to taking five minutes during your workout to zero in on your bodily sensations by using all five senses.
Lunchtime – Eating can even become meditation when done mindfully. Focus on the feel, taste, smell of your food. You can do this at your desk, even.
Coffee break – Long lines at a certain well-known coffee chain can surprisingly provide a timeframe for meditation. Tune in to the way your body feels as you stand in line. What thoughts go through your mind? Take note of the rich coffee smells and loud whirring of the machines.
Flight – Re-frame your travel experience. Instead of seeing your air time as a stressful situation, try the perspective of it becoming an invitation for quiet reflection. Strap on your headphones, even if only to block noise, close your eyes and breathe deeply for a few minutes. Or, download a meditation app to your phone and listen to a guided meditation. One of our favorites is the Headspace app.
It is possible to improve your mental/emotional health even with a busy schedule. If you’d like some ideas for fitting in efficient workouts as well, we can help.