When I first started my meditation practice I was strict with myself. My perception was that I needed to develop my practice exactly how I was taught. I was taught that, overtime, I should practice meditation once in the morning and once in the evening for at least 5 minutes but preferably up to 30 minutes. I wanted to work up to meditating one and a half hours per day. I have a meditation space that I still use, but in the beginning it was the only place I wanted to meditate. Do you see where I am going here? I was restrictive on myself and my practice. I wanted all circumstances (the time of day, location, length, etc.) to be just right, and I didn’t feel like my practice could develop or deepen without these parameters being met.
I also was strict on what things I introduced to my subconscious. I refused to watch any shows or video games that had violence. I didn’t read books that weren’t about positive, uplifting things. I was cautious about the foods I ate and when I ate meals because of its effect on my meditation practice. I was anal, paranoid, skeptical, obsessive. This doesn’t sound like fun at all.
I believe that meditation should make me happier and healthier not more neurotic. Meditation should be something I look forward to. It should bring me peace and clarity. It should help me develop a level of calmness in all situations and a connection to the bigger picture and my higher power. The practice I described above did help with these things, but also developed my compulsive, anal behavior.
Where’s the balance? How does one balance the happenings of life, the (sometimes violent) hobbies of loved ones and a spiritual meditation practice. My significant other likes to play video games, sometimes violent ones. My sister likes watching scary movies, most times violent. I work weird, irregular hours between my two jobs.
I like how my days do not follow a set plan. I like having the freedom to wake up and listen to what my body and brain want to do. Some mornings I wake up and I have a lot of energy to get things done, like, picking up the house, laundry, going to the gym or going on a run. Other mornings I wake up and want to sit in silence at my alter or do yoga on the porch followed by a meditation practice. Having the freedom to live out my morning according to what I feel is important to me. I feel so much more free and joyful than the times I would wake up and begin a regiment of specific things in a specific order. Not to mention the guilt for missing a part of my regimented practice. To be honest, the guilt was the worst part. It would eat at me and drive me to meditation, but then when I would sit to meditate there was a lingering negativity in my mind.
A meditation practice is just that, a practice. My current practice is not as regimented. Some days I do not do a formal practice. I have begun practicing meditation techniques at untraditional times of day. For example, I had a doctor’s appointment the other day. While waiting in the examination room I enjoyed a 15 minute meditation. When walking my dog I practice walking meditation techniques. At the gym, between sets, I practice meditation while listening to my heart rate and calming my breath.
My meditation journey will continue to develop and change through out my life. I always want it to be there but I want it to work with my daily life. I want to continue to find ways to live a more meditative lifestyle. A more one-pointed focus on what I am doing throughout the day. I imagine that there will come a time, maybe tomorrow, maybe a few years from now, maybe next year, where my meditation practice may take a more traditional route. Right now, I respect that I live an untraditional lifestyle and my practice should work with where I am right now.
I meditate every day. I am striving to have a guilt free practice. I find myself in front of my alter at least once per day. The untraditional meditations are not better or worse; simply different. I feel good after meditation and I see the benefits throughout my living.
If you work a 9 to 5 then a more regimented meditation practice may work well for you. I teach my students to relate your practice to a habit you have already developed. For example, right after you brush your teeth each morning and evening sit to meditate for five or ten minutes. Over time you will connect the action of brushing your teeth, the taste of the toothpaste, with the feelings of meditation. One will trigger the other and it will stimulate the consistent habit.
If you work part time and find that your day is irregular you may still find that you enjoy a regimented sequence in the morning. If that is the case than develop your practice into your morning and/or evening routine.
If you live a life that has you going to bed at different times of night and waking up at different times of day than work with your schedule and time slots to find moments to enjoy meditation. Don’t try to squeeze a square key into a circle keyhole.
No matter your lifestyle I encourage you to develop some sort of meditation practice. It may be like no one else’s practice. You may find that you like meditating more in the evenings, or sitting up on your bed pillows and meditating right when you get up. Maybe you enjoy a daily meditation walk. Define, for yourself, what you want to get out of a meditation practice and then find ways that encourage those benefits. What makes meditation fun for you? What do you enjoy about meditation? Your answers will be different than someone else’s. We can take notes from each other and find inspiration in our differences, but ultimately, you must find what works for you and cultivate a peaceful mind and a peaceful life.
“Even a little practice of meditation will free one from dire fears and colossal sufferings.”
So to conclude and refer back to the title: Finding Time to Meditate; try incorporating your practice into daily tasks. Sing an uplifting chant or song while you wash dishes; sit in the sun and clear your mind of everything except the sensation of the sun on your skin. Take time throughout your day to close your eyes and just be present with your breath. Try creating a formal practice but don’t allow it to get rigid. If it does, find ways to make it fun. Meditation should be something you look forward to! The time alone with your breath, the places you go to, and the calmness that lingers after.
Blessings to you.