Meditation is a powerful tool that can help you reduce stress, improve your health, and boost your performance at work and in life. Plus, the benefits are available to anyone — no matter how busy you are. So if you’re not sure where to start, or think meditation isn’t for you, here are ways to enjoy the benefits of meditation when you’re strapped for time.
Find a quiet moment
The first step in making time to meditate is to find a quiet moment. This can be as simple as locking yourself in the bathroom or finding a spot where you won’t be disturbed. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, relaxing your body and mind. Don’t think about anything while you’re doing this: focus on breathing in, breathing out, and relaxing. If thoughts come into your head, don’t worry about them — acknowledge them and continue to focus on your breath rather than allowing them to distract you.
Focus on your breath
Breathing is one of the best ways to get into a meditative state. Focusing on your breath helps clear your mind of distractions and silence all the jumbled thoughts in your head.
Start by breathing in for a count of four, then exhaling for a count of six. You can use a timer to keep track of those counts until you become accustomed to this breathing approach.
Once this becomes second nature, try lengthening each phase. For example, inhale for five seconds and exhale for seven or eight. Gradually work up until you’ve reached 10 seconds per phase (inhale/exhale) or more.
Focus on your senses
If you feel like you don’t have enough time to meditate, try this tip. Rather than increasing the time you spend meditating, focus on what’s happening at the moment.
When you’re busier than usual, it can feel like your meditation practice gets shortchanged by all the demands on your attention. If a 10- or 20-minute session feels impossible, do this.
Sit down and focus on one sense at a time:
- What are you seeing?
- What are you hearing?
- What are the smells around you?
- Are there any tastes or textures that stand out?
- How does your body feel in the present moment?
And then move on to another sense as soon as possible before starting again at the top of your list if necessary. Let yourself be fully present in this moment with whatever sensations arise.
Focus on how you feel
Meditation is often associated with physical or mental elements. For example, some people focus on their breath, while others home in on a mantra or idea. There are many ways to meditate, and you may discover one way is better than another for you. So, experiment with different techniques until you find one that works for you.
Regardless of what method you use, meditation is as much about experiencing thoughts and emotions as it is about quieting them. Focusing too much on controlling your thoughts can lead to stress and frustration instead of relaxation. Have you ever noticed that?
Rather than trying too hard to control your mind when meditating, concentrate on how each moment feels from the inside out. What does my body feel like right now? What does your breath feel like? What are you thinking about? And so on.
Stare at a single spot
While it’s impossible to meditate in front of a computer screen, you can get close. Close your eyes and look at a single spot on the screen. Do this for as long as possible, ideally five minutes or more. You could also choose to focus on a specific scene. Maybe there’s a picture of an old friend who makes you smile, an interesting design element, or maybe just one little pixel catches your eye. Then focus on that spot!
Start with one minute a day
- The first step to meditation is to sit down and do it. It doesn’t have to be a big deal. Most people can fit five minutes of meditation into their busy day without extra effort.
- Find an empty room or corner where you won’t be disturbed.
- Sit down on the floor or in a chair with your back straight and relaxed, legs crossed or stretched out in front of you.
- Close your eyes gently but firmly.
- Breathe naturally.
- Relax every part of yourself from head to toe.
- Focus on breathing for about 30 seconds before letting go of everything else as well as possible.
Make it part of your routine
To make meditation part of your routine and your life, be intentional about it. How? Well, there are three things you can do:
- Find a time of day that works for you and stick with it. If mornings work best, try to meditate before the kids get up.
- Set aside a specific amount of time each day (for example, 10 minutes) or each week (like once per month). Daily practice is ideal because it becomes part of your day-to-day life rather than something extra on top of everything else.
- Be flexible. If you can only meditate for 3 minutes, do so.
Meditation can help reduce stress and improve health, and you can find time to meditate even if you don’t think you have the time. It will help reduce stress and improve your mental and physical health. If you’re busy, practicing mindfulness and finding ways to take care of yourself that don’t require a lot of time is still important. It all comes down to finding a few moments in your day to invest in your mental health and well-being.
- “12 Science-Based Benefits of Meditation – Healthline.” 27 Oct. 2020, healthline.com/nutrition/12-benefits-of-meditation.
- “Meditation for Your Health – Harvard Health.” health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/meditation-for-your-health.
- “16 Health Benefits of Daily Meditation According to Science.” 02 Jan. 2023, https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-meditation/.
- Kiken LG, Shook NJ. Does mindfulness attenuate thoughts emphasizing negativity, but not positivity? J Res Pers. 2014 Dec 1;53:22-30. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2014.08.002. PMID: 25284906; PMCID: PMC4178287.
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