How to Meditate If You Have a Busy Life

Catherine Pratt,

How do you find time to meditate when your life is already completely full? Here are the six things I realized I was letting get in my way to being able to do it.

One of the main problems I've run into with trying to incorporate meditation into my life is that I feel like I don't have time to do it.

I know that might sound silly but when I'm going full speed ahead trying to get everything done, it feels like it's counter productive to suddenly slam on the brakes and basically "do nothing" for half an hour or an hour like all the meditation gurus seem to suggest is the optimum time to do it.

I keep hearing about all the numerous benefits of meditation like greater focus and concentration, inner calmness and peace, reduced stress and increased creativity. All that sounds great. Who wouldn't want that? I know I would.

But the thought of giving up an hour when I already have so much to do sounds like it's going to increase my stress levels, not reduce it.

Meditation also always sounds so very simple to do but I don't find it simple and then I find it frustrating that I don't seem to be able to do something that's supposed to be so "easy".

Meditation is definitely not as simple as it first appears.

But then I hear the advice that says it's those who lead busy lifestyles who really need to try meditation as a busy life can often result in added stress, and they say meditation is one way to solve that. But, if it feels like it's adding more stress than it's reducing because the thought of meditating ends up feeling like a burden, is it really worth doing? Is it really worth making it something else I'm supposed to add to the "to do" list which has already got way too many things on it and then end up feeling guilty when I skip it because I have too much to do already?

I've really had to consider whether meditation is valuable enough to add in when I already feel too busy to meditate.

Well, here are six key things I've discovered about meditation.
These are the secrets to being able to add in meditation without it causing additional stress.

Basically, I've broken through some of the myths surrounding meditation and that's made it easier for me to add it in to my day.

Dalai Lama quote about meditation

1. You only need to meditate for a few minutes

Despite what you hear about people meditating for hours, meditating for just a few minutes can still be valuable for your health and well-being.

So, try meditating for two minutes. Or even one minute if that's all you can do. I know that might sound silly meditating for such a short amount of time but try it. It works!

Two minutes sounds doable to your brain. It doesn't feel like it's overwhelming or going to be hard so it's easier to convince yourself to do it.

Start with just two minutes a day for a week. If that goes well, increase by another two minutes and do that for a week. 

Yes, even two minutes of meditation is worth doing.

As Eckhart Tolle says, "One conscious breath in and out is a meditation". Doesn't that give you a whole new perspective on meditation? It's not something only those with the willpower to empty their minds can do and it's not something that requires a whole lot of time.

Eckhart Tolle quote, "One conscious breathe in and out is a meditation".

2. Try movement meditation

Movement meditation is a great technique to try if you lead a busy life. Movement meditation involves meditating while in motion. You could meditate while walking or doing household chores.

Have you ever seen a labyrinth?

photo of a labyrinth

You'll find them in gardens and parks sometimes as well as the famous Chartres Labyrinth. Those are walking meditations. You might not have access to a labyrinth but any walking can use the same principles.

It involves the same type of technique as traditional meditation, you stop getting tangled up in your thoughts and just let them float by. You focus on being in the moment and paying attention to the act of walking rather than all the thoughts chattering away in your head. 

If you’re at work or using public transport, then try meditating as you are seated. As long as you are seated in a comfortable position, you should find that you are able to spend a few minutes successfully meditating.

Or try coloring. Lots of coloring books for adults available now or just grab a piece of paper and doodle.

The point is that meditation doesn't have to be something done in a completely quiet room all by yourself.

3. Don’t get caught up in the how — just do

Most people worry about doing it "right" or want to make sure they have all the right equipment. So, they try to figure out where to sit, how to sit, what cushions to use or not use, but all of that isn't necessary to get started.

Start as simple as possible. Try sitting on a chair or on your couch. Or on your bed or on the floor with your back against your bed. Or if you’re comfortable sitting on the ground, try sitting cross-legged like you see all the meditation gurus doing. Or just sit on the ground with your back against a tree. Just sit however makes you feel comfortable. All you need to do is find somewhere comfortable to be for a few minutes.

You could even be at your desk and be staring blankly at your computer screen for two minutes and no one is even going to know that you're meditating for a moment.

The great thing about meditation is that you can do it anywhere and you don't need any fancy equipment and you don't even have to change your clothes or put on running shoes.

At the end of the day, I can end up just totally wacky, because I've made mountains out of molehills. With meditation, I can keep them as molehills. Ringo Starr

4. Don’t worry about clearing the mind

This is one that hung me up for a long time. I thought I needed to clear my mind or try to stop all my thoughts and be in a state of blankness. Guess what? You don't. Isn't that a relief knowing that?

You can end up being in a state of not thinking but it’s not the “goal” of meditation. No one tells you that, do they? But, it's true. If you have thoughts, that’s normal. We all do. Our brains are thought machines. We can’t just hit an "off" switch.

The trick is to not get tangled up in your thoughts. Allow them to come but also allow them to go. Don't interact with them. Just allow them to be. You could also imagine brushing your thoughts away with a broom or think, "later" or see them as clouds drifting past. Or even label them like, "There's a thought". You don't follow the thought though. You let it pass by.

Or, try this, as you first settle down with your intention to meditate, check in with yourself and see how you're feeling. Is there any tenseness in your body like your shoulders or neck? Relax and let all that tension go. You could also check in on your breathing, are you breathing shallowly or fast? Take some deep breaths and release all your tension out on your exhales.

5. Your mind is going to wander

This isn't an "if your mind wanders", it will. Pretty much guaranteed it will. Expect that it will happen. It doesn't mean you're doing it wrong. It means you're normal.

When you notice your mind wandering, smile, and gently let those thoughts pass by.

6. Don’t worry about doing it wrong

You'll worry you’re doing it wrong or could be doing a better job with it. I know you will. That’s OK, we all do. Whenever we start to do something new, we worry about whether we're doing it right. You’re not doing it wrong because there’s no perfect way to do meditation.  Be proud of yourself for taking the time to slow your mind down for a few moments.

A few easy ways to incorporate meditation into your day

Okay, so now that we've got past some of the myths of meditating, let's see how you can fit into your hectic schedule.

Here are a few suggestions of when to fit meditation in during the day.

In the morning

Meditating when you first wake up works well because it creates an uplifting and calm feeling for the rest of the day. You'll start your day off feeling like you're in control and at peace within yourself.

In terms of your schedule, spending a few minutes meditating when you first wake up, ensures that you don’t have to try and fit it into the rest of your day. You get it over with first thing so it's done as part of your morning routine so you don't have to worry about finding time to do it later.

If you're worried about time, try setting your alarm for just a few minutes earlier than normal.

This way you'll be meditating daily just like you brush your teeth daily.

During lunch

Meditation during the day is a great way to fit it into your routine. If you are at work, why not find a quiet area where you can meditate or go for a walk.

In the evening

Meditation in the evening is ideal if you struggle with sleep issues. Try meditating for a few minutes before going to bed as this will help to put you in a calm state. It’s much easier to drift off to sleep when you're feeling relaxed. It also clears your mind of all the things that happened during the day and also the worries of what tomorrow will bring.

When you’re feeling stressed

Meditating when you start to feel stressed will help to challenge those feelings. You’ll begin to focus on the tasks you need to complete, rather than being overwhelmed by your fear thoughts that you're never going to get everything done.

Schedule it

Create a reminder for yourself that you need to meditate. When you're leading a busy life, it’s easy to forget to do things like meditation and exercise. Why not create a reminder in your phone or write a note on your refrigerator, so you don’t forget!

Remember you only have to do it for two minutes. You can find two minutes somewhere in your day.

Use a Guided Meditation

A guided meditation can be really helpful because instead of trying to control your thoughts, you're focused on listening to something specific and the person will guide you into a state of relaxation.

A guided meditation that I like is from Zen12 which uses brainwave meditation which means the sound itself gets your brain into a meditative state and it's only 12 minutes long.

Zen 12

Zen 12 is a meditation program which consists of 12 levels. You can get level one for free.

It's also called Zen 12 because you listen for 12 minutes and that's supposed to be like an hour of meditation.

It's $37 for all 12 levels. On the page it says it's $87 but then a coupon pops up to give you $50 off. You're supposed to do one level per month so for $37 you get a year's worth of meditation. Each month is a deeper level. You get to keep the meditations after a year. You have them for life. It's just that they get progressively deeper as you go along.

Each month you get the choice of 4 different "styles". You can have music (which I like), a guided meditation, nature sounds, or white noise.

So far, I do like listening to it. I like the music. There's no bells or rain or chanting monks like there is in a lot of other meditation music. I've never liked that. This is just calming music.

They recommend listening with headphones but I prefer listening without. You're also supposed to try and meditate while listening but I also like having it playing in the background especially when I'm trying to focus on a task.

I also have it on my phone. Sometimes for my job, I'm required to drive around the industrial area picking up supplies. I can find all the traffic (think huge trucks zooming past me in my tiny car) and the frustration of trying to find these places really stressful sometimes. So, I have it on my phone and then if I need to I can park somewhere and play it and I can feel calm and relaxed again and ready to continue on with my hunt for these various places which my GPS never seems to be able to find.

But listening to music and focusing on the sound makes meditation easier for me rather than trying to calm my mind.

: NEVER play it while driving.

You can download level 1 here.

#ad   I like Zen 12 so much that after I bought the program, I decided to become an affiliate for them. So, if you buy through my link, I'll get a small commission but it doesn't cost you a thing and it does help me to keep this site running and providing lots of free information to you.

It's Not Always Peaceful

Something else to realize is that meditation isn’t always easy or even peaceful. Sounds strange I know because you've been told that meditation is easy and will make you feel wonderfully calm and peaceful. But, it doesn't always and it's best to accept that.

The main thing to know it that it does have truly amazing benefits, and you can start today, and continue for the rest of your life. Also, if you fall off the wagon with it, it's easy to start up again. But, the main thing to realize is that meditation is far easier to incorporate into your life than you might think. And, having those few moments when you're not being overwhelmed by your thoughts is truly a gift we can give ourselves every day.

So, what are you waiting for? All you need is two minutes. Or simply hit Play on the Zen 12 soundtrack and you're doing it.

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