You're running so fast and juggling so many balls in the air at once that you're scared you're going to trip and fall flat on your face. Your report for work is overdue, but you've had to take time off to plan for your dad's care. Your teenager is falling behind in her classes, while your youngest has seemingly endless appointments for his new braces. And your ex is late again with the child support. Your clothes don't fit since you're been eating so much to calm yourself down. So why oh why did you volunteer to head the company picnic this year?
Crazy busy. You get a sick feeling in the pit of your stomach when you see your to-do list. There's no way you can possibly get everything done to everyone's satisfaction. And where on that list does it say to take time for yourself? As if you had time for that!
As Simon and Garfunkel sang, "Slow down, you move too fast." But how, exactly, can you do that?
By learning to meditate.
Right. As if you could go sit in a cave like a yogi.
Guess what? You don't have to leave the world to meditate. A few minutes in your bedroom at the start of the day is all you need. Despite my totally crazy busy schedule, I have not missed a single day of meditation in over 30 years!
Here are five tips to get you on the right track:
- Make it the first thing you do in the morning when you wake up, before you leave the bedroom, before you check your email or your phone or the kids. Even 10 minutes of meditation in the morning will put you in a much calmer and more spacious place, and the rest of your day will go so much more smoothly.
- If you find yourself totally frazzled in the late afternoon, give yourself another 10-minute meditation break. Be creative. You can close the door at the office or appear to be snoozing on public transportation, just be sure no one will startle you. Since the meditative state is separate from our regular waking state, if we're startled out of it, we'll feel disjointed or get a headache.
- Protect your meditation space as much as possible from disturbances. Pop on some noise-cancelling headphones to avoid nearby conversations, and put a "do not disturb" sign on the front door for the FedEx guys.
- If you find that you do nod off, wonderful! Give yourself a pat on the back: if your body demands a few minutes of sleep, by all means, honor that; it "counts" as meditation in those circumstances. If you find, though, that you're falling asleep every time you sit down to meditate, you need to start going to bed earlier.
- I believe strongly that the only way to learn an effective form of meditation, the kind that not only reduces stress but also raises consciousness, is from an instructor, not a book. Check out my instructional video to learn more about how to do just that without leaving home:
If you establish a daily meditation practice, pretty soon, 10 or 20 minutes will fly by. It will not be another chore on your to-do list, but something you look forward to each day. Your life may still be crazy busy, but you'll sail through it with far more equanimity. You'll sleep better, lose weight more easily, have less anxiety and more joy, and even be smarter! Plus, you'll be sending a peaceful energy out into the world, doing your part to help humanity.
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Deborah King is the author of the New York Times bestseller "Be Your Own Shaman."