Too busy to meditate…..

I attended a day conference for higher degree research students that was intended to be a luxury ‘time out’ from relentless schedules. Among the topics, including how to network and publish for success (above writing an 80,000 word thesis), was a session on mindfulness. It was facilitated by a psychologist, who used a line that will stay with me…..”You can meditate, but I don’t have the time to meditate so instead I have a few quick tools I use.”

So how do you ‘stay in the moment’, have a mental break, and not get overwhelmed, when you are too busy to meditate??

It’s easier said then done, but among mindfulness skills are: being aware of your body sensations; paying attention fully and observing what’s around you; throwing yourself completely into the activity of the moment (no mind mapping elsewhere or thinking about cooking dinner while playing darts with the kids…’s dangerous!); and being spontaneous – allowing plans to fly out the door - for just a time. All of this is intended to give our over active and over stimulated minds a break.

These all seem like perfectly reasonable and positive skills to help us practice sanity in everyday life, and to equip is for the rush to wherever it is we need to go.

According to our too busy to meditate psychologist, the beauty of this is you can squeeze a mindful moment into sitting waiting at a bus stop or any opportunity to steal a minute, close your eyes, and hear yourself.

But strangely that image – grabbing a mindful moment at a bus stop – left me feeling slightly amused, but also a little bereft. It seemed strangely ridiculous, like taking a pill but never curing the illness and then telling everyone how cool that is. I feel I want to ‘back up a bit’.

Before these stolen moments, can I make some suggestions of my own (unqualified as I am, except I do juggle PhD, young family and teaching). If you feel too busy to meditate, pray, walk amongst the flowers or whatever it is that refreshes you mind, body and soul….how about:

  • Work out what you can drop. Do you need to accomplish that task, promotion or milestone NOW, or will later be ok?
  • Ok you do. Well can you strive for excellence but not perfection for a happier but ultimately more creative and relaxed you?
  • Rather than seeing ‘me time' as an option, see it as fuel for your engine, which is you. No fuel and you will burn out.
  • Not a pleasant one, but imagine being on the deathbed tomorrow, or with a loved one passing on, what would you value today? Ok, we don’t live on the edge of an emotional cliff, but some of what you stress about today really won’t matter……EVER!

So my advice at the end of the day, is to get mindful about some of those priorities, and if it helps, find time to meditate.