Meditation is one of the most beneficial practices on the planet. It fosters a deep sense of self-awareness that can not only improve your life immensely, but can also help you live in a way that improves the world around you.
Unfortunately, meditation can be intimidating. For most, meditation means disciplined people sitting in Lotus position on the floor for hours, blissfully finding a place of ‘no mind’ or another equally joyful state. This image doesn’t exactly inspire anyone to simply start meditating.
Others are turned off by meditating because of the belief that you must dedicate a large amount of time and effort to make it happen.
The truth is, it’s easy to incorporate meditation into your daily life without having to change much of your schedule, your level of discipline, or your opinion of sitting on the floor in Lotus. Here are my top five ways to sneak meditation into your everyday life.
1. Morning Mindfulness
My favorite way to start the day is in gratitude. One of the simplest meditation techniques I know goes like this: Set your alarm five to 10 minutes earlier than usual. When your alarm goes off, simply sit up in bed and take 10 slow, long breaths.
This will help you be more grounded, more connected with your body, and quieter in your mind. In your mind, list 10 things you’re grateful for, and linger on each item for a moment or two, feeling how it feels to have this thing, person, or circumstance in your life.
This meditation will take you to a very positive mind space for the rest of your day. When your five to 10 minutes is up, you may go about the rest of your day.
2. Mealtime Meditation
Next, incorporating a short meditation before mealtimes is a great way to sneak in meditation. It’s also great for improving your digestion, improving your relationship with food, and improving your awareness of how your food is making you feel.
As you sit down to eat, pause for a minute and allow yourself to be grateful for the food you’re about to consume.
Say in your head or out loud, “I’m grateful for this meal. I ask that this food nourish my body in the ways my body needs to be nourished now. I ask my body to receive this food. Body, if you need anything else from me, please let me know.”
Then, take one more moment to smell your food, noticing its colors and textures. This practice is SO good for creating a mindful eating practice.
3. Walking Meditation
Next, any time during the day where you find yourself walking for more than a few minutes, invite some walking meditation into your life. This is simply done by becoming fully aware of your surroundings, your body moving in space, and everything happening within you.
Start by calling your attention to your breath for a few moments. Then, shift your attention to your feet on the ground. Feel how it feels walking on the surface you’re walking on. Notice how your body feels as you walk. Are you feeling tight or stiff anywhere? Does it feel good to move?
Finally, take your awareness out to your surroundings. How does the air feel on your skin? What noises do you notice happening around you? How does the air smell? What is catching your eye in your current environment? Just bring yourself to the present moment and notice.
This is one of the easiest ways I know to practice being in the moment.
4. Checkout Line Meditation
This next meditation can be used any time you’re waiting for something—at the bank, the post office, the grocery store, the bus stop—any time you’re essentially ‘stuck’ in a place for a period of time.
As you stand or sit and wait, instead of whipping out your iPhone or looking around for some other item to distract you, simply pause and take a few breaths. Again, check in with your body and see how you’re feeling.
Is there excess tension building in your shoulders? Your hips? Your legs? Can you mindfully release this tension?
Can you notice how the people around you are making you feel? Do you feel sad as you stand next to the person in front of you in line? Anxious? Happy? What do you notice about how your surroundings are affecting you on an emotional level?
Simply observe how you respond on a subtle level to the world around you. You may discover some very interesting things about yourself.
5. Nightcap Mediation
Finally, my last suggestion for sneaking moments of meditation into your day is at bedtime. This is one I like to do, especially if I’m having a hard time falling asleep. Start by writing down anything that fills your mind at the moment onto a piece of paper.
This could be the stress from the day you had, your to-do list for tomorrow, your relationship problems—anything that’s causing you to feel uneasy. Let all these things flow out of your hand onto your piece of paper.
Then, close your eyes, and imagine that these things have been placed in a treasure box. They’re under lock and key, safe for you to go back and collect tomorrow. For now, you’ve unloaded them so that you can have a nice restful sleep.
Mindfully take 10 deep breaths here, allowing yourself to really take in the fact that you don’t have to carry your worries with you to sleep tonight. Then, when you are ready, lie down, and go to sleep.
By writing down your thoughts, you’re sending a signal to your mind that it doesn’t have to keep reminding you of your worries, because they’re safe somewhere and you now cannot forget about them. This will help you sleep more peacefully.
So what do you think? Are you ready to include more meditation into your life?