Our days, by nature, are busy. Many of us spend our weeks, months, and years moving and grooving at work, with our families, at events, or in transit. The joys of juggling can be a blessing, akin to the adage that too much business is better than having no business at all. But amidst such movement, it becomes very easy to forget the most basic of tasks on our to-do lists, let alone remember to just breathe.
Recently, something that I've continued to work on in my own life is making the time and space for these moments of peace - a stretch of time where I can hit the pause button and bring myself to the present - clearing my mind, and relishing in a few good mindful breaths before pressing play again on the day. Through experience, I've learned about the power in having a little pause in thinking (aka planning, pondering, worrying, or listening to my own inner critic tell me her opinion) and how it has really helped me use my brain more effectively when I need to again. I'm more mindful about how I create plans and work towards goals. I also sleep better, worry less, and breath a bit easier.
While in theory, making this space to move into the "now" is technically a meditation, the time and place might not resemble what many might view as the stereotypical act. And within that lies the beauty of it all.
Building a routine meditation is a personal and individual act. For some, meditation may appear to take place in the classic Zen sitting style - seated lotus position, rear lifted and eyes at a soft gaze for a length of time. But for many people, incorporating that type of practice into their lives is neither practical nor desirable, and may not even be the best way to connect with the present at all. If this is something that has deterred you from exploring meditation, I'd invite you to consider that the many ways to incorporate these spaces of peace and mindfulness into your life, and even begin to schedule it into your day.
Over the past year, through a joyful, challenging, and at times, really freaking frustrating, play with meditation, mantras, and mudras, I've learned about the many methods of making space within my mind. I've shared this with friends, praising the wonders of deep belly breathing and quiet serenity I've discovered during some seriously stressful times. With practice, I've learned what works best for me (a series of deep belly breaths, a simple body scan, and a mantra or two) and how to expand or shorten my practice given the availability of time. I've learned to be gentle on myself as I work to explore meditation, and to remind myself that time and space is a gift that can be found anywhere and anytime.
The good news is, however you choose to incorporate meditative moments, the benefits remain. Read more about the different types of meditation via The Chopra Center, the Institute for Noetic Sciences, and Gaiam. For more on the benefits of meditation, check out Emma Seppälä's "20 Scientific Reasons to Start Meditating Today."