“Suffering usually relates to wanting things to be different than they are.” ~Allan Lokos
“In this moment, there is plenty of time. In this moment, you are precisely as you should be. In this moment, there is infinite possibility.” ~Victoria Moran
“In today’s rush, we all think too much — seek too much — want too much — and forget about the joy of just being.” ~Eckhart Tolle
Life is hectic. Work gets busier and busier. The kid’s schedules are more complicated every year. Your parents are counting on you on take care of them as they age. Your day feels like a sprint from the moment you get up until the moment you flop into bed, exhausted.
You absolutely don’t have time for one more thing and the thought of adding in meditation is enough to make you want to scream! So how do you create space to be mindful without exploding?
By adding mindfulness into your everyday activities. Deepak Chopra discusses a concept called “time sickness”. He says we suffer from this sickness because we measure our days by how much we accomplish. The more we cross off our to-do list the better the day, and the more we have left hanging, the worse the day. This is where our stress and frustrations with time come from.
Instead, let’s shift our focus to how deeply we connect with ourselves and others. Here are 8 meditations we can put into our daily activities to center us in the now and connect deeply with all that is in our life.
Meditate in Line
“Mindfulness isn’t difficult, we just need to remember to do it.” ~Sharon Salzberg
Whenever you are standing in line at the grocery store or the bank take a few moments to mentally disengage and clear your mind. You can keep your eyes open, just drop your gaze, and unfocus your eyes to shut out your surroundings. Even a few minutes are enough to refresh and renew you.
“The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh
If you are carpooling, talking on the phone, eating your lunch, and thinking about your to-do list you are not doing anything well. Whatever you are doing, do it fully.
These short rides are the perfect time to connect with your kids; don’t pass them up for an extra 10 minutes of fretting over a work deadline. You can’t do anything about the deadline while driving, but you can miss making important connections with your children. Open up conversations that allow them to tell stories, ask questions, and create fun memories with you.
Exercise Your Body & Mind
“A few simple tips for life: feet on the ground, head to the skies, heart open…quiet mind.” – Rasheed Ogunlaru
Movement alone is not going to increase your well-being if your mind is still running at full speed. Mindful exercises like yoga, tai chi, and qi gong all restore both the body and the mind.
Even if you are just out for a walk, walk mindfully. Pay attention to where your body is in space. Feel your feet as they touch down on the earth. Draw your attention in and make your walk about connecting with nature and connecting with your Self.
“Mindful eating is about awareness. When you eat mindfully, you slow down, pay attention to the food you’re eating, and savor every bite.” – Susan Albers
Eating is a sacred ritual. As you prepare and consume food pause and reflect on all the hands that were part of your food chain. Farmers toiled in the fields, people transported the food, clerks proudly displayed the food, and you took the raw ingredients and created a meal that nourishes and sustains your family.
Acknowledge your gratitude for everyone who lovingly and carefully participated to make your meal happen. Savor every bite. Slow down and be present throughout your meal.
“Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it.” — Eckhart Tolle
When you lay your body down, lay your mind down also. You create a disconnect in the signals you send your body when you lay down physically but continue to be revved up mentally. When it is time to sleep, sleep. Don’t take your phone or laptop to bed with you. Don’t push past your sleep signals to watch another hour of TV.
Your body works in harmony with you as long as you allow it to. Make sleep a priority because that is restorative time; allow your body to heal, process, and discard all that does not serve you, so each day is a fresh start.
Focus on Work
“The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness. Mindfulness means being awake. It means knowing what you are doing.” ~Jon Kabat-Zinn
When you are at work, focus on work. First of all, don’t distract with all the other things that are on your plate. If you have to pick up your kid from school for a 2pm doctor’s appointment then set an alarm on your phone and put it out of your mind. Create systems to clear your mind of extraneous mental clutter.
Secondly, focus on your work. When you give it all of your focused attention for set periods of time you get much more done. Limiting distractions will allow you to get into the zone and do more with less time, which will help you not fret over unfinished business when you’re at home.
Give Your Full Attention
“If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” ~Pema Chodron
When you are with people give them your full attention. Put your phone down and really listen when they speak. Listen without mental commentary or rebuttals. Hear what they are saying and what they are not saying.
Listen for any struggle, pain, or fear they may be experiencing. The quality of your relationships will skyrocket when you make people feel important enough to really be heard.
Revel in Your Daily Rituals
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh”
One of my special rituals is brewing a cup of tea. I find it very peaceful to prepare the tea, boil the water, and then steep the mixture. I watch the steam rise as I lift the cup to my lips slowly and deliberately.
I find mindfulness by being fully present. What’s your ritual? Maybe it’s chopping wood, mopping the floor, or painting. Your actions aren’t important; joy is a byproduct of your presence.
You have to do what you have to do. Your boss expects you to show up at work, the kids need to get to soccer practice, and somehow dinner needs to magically appear on the table every evening.
However, you can find joy by incorporating mindfulness into your everyday activities. It’s not what you do that produces either stress or serenity, but rather how you do it. Search for ways you can incorporate mindfulness in your day and watch your wellbeing soar.