“Meditation takes FOREVER”. “I don’t have time to meditate.” “I just can’t remember to do my meditations”. Does this sound like you? (It does ME!). Meditation is that really tricky part of a yoga practice that a lot of us like to pretend doesn’t exist. It’s true-meditation takes a lot of focus, perseverance, and commitment; all of which takes time for us chronically busy people. That said, meditation IS really important and offers wonderful health benefits. The more you practice, the easier it becomes. Sometimes our lives do interrupt our best intentions, unfortunately. One solution is to find moments here and there throughout the day to practice. They say it takes thirty days to start or stop a habit, and as we all know, practice makes perfect. So…outlined below are five strange places you can practice meditation in those fleeting moments (and by the way, all of these are wonderful to teach children):
1.) Standing in a long line. While you’re getting tonight’s dinner, withdrawing cash, or waiting to see the next big blockbuster, take that 2-3 minutes to slow your breathing and focus only on your inhalations and exhalations. Relax any tension you feel in your neck and shoulders. Try to double your exhalations, i.e. inhale to the count of three, and exhale to the count of six. Notice your lungs expanding and how the oxygen energizes you!
2.) At the dentist. This one is especially useful for probably half of the population! Before getting all worked up and letting anxiety have its way, find your favorite internal script or venue. It may be the sandy beach in the tropics or the glorious lights of New York’s skyscrapers. Go there! Let your breath slow, close your eyes, and remove your mind and your senses from the sterility of the chair. Focus on your body being wherever you’ve decided. Think how the sand feels on your toes or how the bustling of lights and sound make you feel. Concentrate on that feeling of contentment.
3.) (As a passenger) In the car. Headed for a getaway or long drive? Pop in a guided meditation audiobook and/or CD. Now is the perfect time to scour the interwebs or your local bookstore to find a couple of different ones. They are great for the beginner and expert alike. If you can’t find any, you could always make one or employ a friend who has a voice like Morgan Freeman to record onto a CD!
4.) In the swimming pool. Always practice water safety, of course. You can use a floating lounger or sit on the stairs as well. Begin by lowering your feet into the water and taking full note of the temperature, the silkiness of the water, and the slight wind in the air. Let your mind wander at first. Slowly begin to reign in your thoughts and focus on a singular experience or sensation. Try to keep your attention on that one thing-if thoughts creep in, let them float away from you into the pool.
5.) At a crowded event. If you are an introvert, this might come in super handy. When things are getting loud or overwhelming at a party, fundraiser, etc., it can quickly become over-stimulating and upsetting, sometimes even causing physical pain. Take a moment to find a spot that is empty, or at least less crowded. Grab a drink (just a tad) and take a breath. Alternate each breath with a sip of water/punch. Close your eyes and repeat “I am safe. I am calm” until you feel better.
By meditating in strange places, you’ll not only improve your health, you will also form the habit to implement a regular meditation Give it a whirl the next time you find yourself having to wait or otherwise be still!