Like exercise, meditation has numerous health benefits that can have an enormously positive impact on gut function, hormone balance and overall well-being. Meditation is the ultimate, drug-free drug to poke a hole in the stress bubble of modern life, so why do so many people find it so hard to find the time to do it? I know, I know, you’re super-busy, living life at warp speed. Who’s got the time? Actually, you do – if you know where to look.
When you meditate, even if it’s just for five minutes at a time, you’ll help trigger the release of feel-good endorphins into the bloodstream that boost mood, help curb anxiety and tame pain. You’ll also help lower blood pressure, as well as stroke and heart disease risk. Another bonus? Studies have shown that meditation slows brain aging and helps keeps chromosomes young. So what are you waiting for?
If you’re one of those who can never seem to find a moment to meditate, here are a few ways to make the time and get on the path to establishing this wonderfully healthful habit:
To help make your new meditation habit stick, you’ll need to commit to a meditation schedule. Aim for a daily schedule, for at least the next month. The more you do it, the more automatic your meditation habit will become. The important thing is to make it a habit – because that’s when your mind and body really start to experience the powerful benefits of meditation. Though doing it once or twice a week is better than not at all, meditation is a case of more is better, so get into a regular, daily groove.
Take it one minute at a time.
How long you choose to meditate is up to you, but for those just starting out, 5 minutes is a good starting point. Over the course of a few days or weeks, try extending your sessions by minute or two, eventually building up to a 20 – 30 minute practice (or longer, if you wish).
Pencil it in.
Take your meditation seriously by giving it the space it deserves in your calendar. Decide what time every day you’ll do it, block out the time in your Outlook calendar or pencil it into your planner. Simply by putting a meditation ‘appointment’ on the daily to-do list, preferably towards the top, you’ll be more likely to do it. Set yourself up to succeed!
Choose your when and where.
What’s the best time to meditate? The time that works for you. Though it doesn’t have to be the same time every day, the same-time-same-place approach works for many people as it encourages a more regular and consistent practice. Those just starting out should look for a quiet time and place to practice. Down the road, as you become better at it, you’ll likely find that you’re able to meditate in a wider variety of environments, even noisy ones.
“No time?” No way!
You have more time than you think, particularly when you start to tick off the hours we all fritter away on time-suckers like social media, video games and TV watching. Sign off 10 minutes earlier than usual and voila, you’ve just found time for a brief meditation session! Here are a few other gaps the day that are perfect for meditation:
- Wake up 10 minutes earlier and meditate upon rising, before the rest of the family gets up.
- Meditate in the car, before you head out, or take a few minutes in the parking lot.
- On the commuter train, find the designated quiet car and use some of that commuting time to meditate instead of reading email or the headlines.
- Many open-plan office spaces provide small phone rooms where employees can shut the door and make personal calls, which can also double as a meditation space.
- No phone room? Then, during the day, step into a local church and take advantage of the silence.
- Many gyms now have quiet rooms so use them to meditate before or after your workout.
- No quiet room? Then hit the sauna which is typically a quiet space, or find an unoccupied exercise room to use.
- In the evenings, to help your mind and body downshift from the day and prep yourself for sleep, turn in a few minutes earlier and, just before lights, out take a few minutes to meditate.
There’s an app for that (of course!)
You can get an assist for your practice with any number of meditation apps. If you’re just starting out and struggling a bit with finding the time, an app can make it easier to get into that regular groove, so check them out. Among a few of the well-regarded apps to consider: Headspace; Calm; The Mindfulness App; Buddhify, Insight Timer, OMG! I Can Meditate!; and Stop, Breathe & Think.
Also take a look at How to Start Your Meditation Practice for ideas and resources on how to get started.