Meditation is an exercise in mindfulness. Despite what you may think, it doesn’t need to be hard and won’t require you to fit something else into your already busy schedule.
If you can take between 4-16 minutes* each day to sit and meditate or be guided through a relaxing visualisation then I would absolutely recommend that you do that, but if you can’t, or simply don’t want to, then you can still experience the benefits of mindfulness while you go about your daily activities.
All you need to do is draw your awareness to your senses and to become mindful of whatever it is you happen to be doing at the time; to just get really present.
So let’s say that you are typing at your computer. The first step would be to pause and take some slow deep breaths…in…..and….out…. clear your head and let your body release any tension it may have been feeling.
Then, you would start to become aware of what you are aware of with each of your senses, such as the weight of your body pressing down into the chair, the feel of your clothes on your skin, the temperature of the air, the gentle breeze on your face, your fingertips on the keyboard, everything you can see in your primary and peripheral vision, all of the sounds you can hear, both obvious and subtle…
The more you simply notice and experience whatever happens to be in your sensory reality, in that moment, the more grounded in the present you will become.
It is fascinating that any feelings of stress or anxiety are likely to naturally dissipate as the frame of mind that was keeping them alive gives way to the peace of the NOW. It is also amazing how much more ‘task focus’ you are able to bring as you resume your work with a clear head and comfortable body.
The only thing in the world right now…
Once you are more centred and grounded in the present moment, the next simple strategy is one that I call ‘The only thing in the world right now’.
The premise of this is that you set yourself the intention that whatever it is you are about to do, you are going to do it like it really, REALLY matters and that it is the only thing in the world right now that needs your attention.
So for example, if you are typing, you would continue to be quietly mindful of your sensory experience whilst allowing your creative mind to effortlessly focus on the best, most appropriate words to type in order to convey your message perfectly. In that moment nobody wants anything, nobody expects anything from you and there is nothing whatsoever for you to do except to type like it really matters.
If the thought of focusing on just one task to the exclusion of every other task that has also made it to number one on your priority list freaks you out, then it is good to remind yourself that no matter what happens you can only physically do one thing at a time anyway.
As soon as you’re done with whatever is front of you, the next thing you turn to will become the only thing in the world that needs your attention. The key is to just continue being mindful and fully focussed on the present moment. (You can’t physically be in two places at once anyway!).
If you think you will need a bit more practice trying out these strategies, a fun time to do it is when you are washing up or cleaning your car. The next time you are about to do the dishes or wash your car, take a deep breath, relax your body and get present with all of your senses.
Then meticulously clean each piece like it is the most important thing in the world right now. I also suspect that your unconscious will accept this as a beautiful metaphor for cleansing the mind.
Get clean. Get clear. Enjoy the peace and calm, and most of all, have fun!
* My highly popular ‘Simple Meditation for Busy People’ is available for download for free here
It will help you achieve a deep meditative state in just 4 minutes. The download also includes an audiobook and some instrumental-only tracks for extended meditation.
If you’re interested in learning more mindfulness, Dr Jeffrey M Schwartz and I will be running special 6-week masterclass series, based on the content in his best-selling book, ‘You Are Not Your Brain’ in November 2015. Spaces are strictly limited. To learn more or to register, head across to the course page here.