How to meditate without making time for it!

Most people these days are aware of the benefits of meditation, but many believe they don’t have the time. Sitting on a cushion with their eyes closed for an hour just isn’t an option. In fact, though you might not realise it, throughout everyone’s day there are numerous opportunities for meditation. Little pauses that we usually fill up with phone-scrolling or pointless mind activity. No matter how full your life is, you could be making the most of these moments and finding the peace and focus that everyone needs.

1. Kettle.
It only takes a minute for a kettle to boil, so instead of busying yourself with other things, why not sit down and notice the sensation of your breath coming and going. You may find the sound of the kettle helps to take you away from thoughts too. When you have made your drink, sit and savour it for a while if you have time.

2. Traffic.

Waiting at traffic lights (or in a tailback) can be so frustrating but there is no need to get tensed up behind the wheel. Use these few moments you have been given to relax. Keep your eyes open but bring your attention to the sensation of your breath, making the out-breath a little longer if you are tense. Glance up at the sky. Enjoy this moment you have been given. When the lights change you will be refreshed and ready for the rest of your journey.

3. Queue.

Standing in line in a shop, post office or supermarket can be very frustrating  as you are powerless to affect how quickly you will get served. See if you can let go of the need for control over the situation and accept that it will take as long as it takes. Your only duty in this time is to look after yourself by relaxing your body and mind. All it takes is to notice the sensation of your breathing and also non-judgmentally noticing and accepting any emotions, such as frustration, or anger that you may be feeling. Close your eyes for a while if you wish.

4. Phone on hold.

Calling a bank or utility company can be incredibly stressful, especially if you are put ‘on hold’. Anger mounts and you can feel powerless and humiliated. You can’t do anything to make them get back to you and there is little else you can do in the meantime. This is actually a great opportunity – you can choose to devote the next few minutes to self-care instead of feeling resentment. Notice the sensation of your breath, feeling the stress drain away as you re-connect with this natural process. Worried that you might get so relaxed that you forget what you want to say? Simply write it all down in advance.

 

5. Public transport.

Waiting for trains, buses and planes is no fun, especially when there are delays, but in these situations, when circumstances are beyond your control, there is nothing to do but give up your resistance to what is. You are here for the duration and you can’t change anything, so let go of the need for control. Don’t seek refuge in your phone; give your mind a break by turning your attention inward. Give your body a ‘scan’, starting at your toes and slowly sweeping up to your head, acknowledging every part and checking out any sensations, then sweeping back in the other direction. Whether you are sitting or standing you can do this and feel the relief – you will be so glad you did.

6. Lift (elevator)

Lifts are very strange places. Inside one, you are confined in a tiny space where there is nothing to do and nothing to look at. You are forced into close proximity with strangers, and everybody is strangely quiet as any interaction may feel too much in such a restricted space. The feeling is distinctly awkward, even though you have been in this situation countless times. This is a perfect time for a micro-meditation. Direct your attention ‘within’ – close your eyes if you wish, focus on your breath. These few seconds you spend in the lift can become a time of preparation. You will emerge more refreshed and ready to carry on with your day when you reach your floor.

7. Shower.

How often do we rush a shower, head filled with all kinds of random activity? Why not choose to notice the sensations as you shower, enjoying the warm water and soap on your body. You could vary the fragrance of shower gel or shampoo you use to keep the experience fresh and interesting. Notice the flow of random thoughts you experience as the water flows. You can also notice your breathing at the same time.

 

The Freedom Inside You

To care deeply about the world is a wonderful and essential thing. But if a news story or a political crisis feels particularly unbearable, you might feel your emotional reactions  affecting your resilience and dimming your light.

This is a great opportunity to observe your feelings without becoming entangled in them to the point where they become disabling. When you notice feelings of distress bubbling up you might find it helps to simply label them as ‘worry’ or ‘anxiety’. They are familiar feelings that you know well. Just acknowledge them without getting into a dialogue with them and let them slowly fade.

Distinguish between what you can and can’t change. Resisting what already is will amplify your sense of discomfort, while acceptance will help you to let go and come into the present moment, where you will find peace. Take a break from the world and spend some time doing things you enjoy to take you away from your busy mind. The peace you generate will benefit the people around you and the wider world. When you have rejuvenated yourself you can then start to work practically for the better world that we all want.

Focusing on your breathing takes you back into presence, but I have recently found out that concentrating on the out-breath is particularly calming. Try making that breath a little longer.

Currently reading: Mindfulness for Worriers by Padraig O’Morain

Why do I compare myself to others?

man-thinkingFacebook is minefield of potential comparisons with other peoples’ lives (or what they choose to present of them). If we are not feeling great, seeing news from people who appear to ‘have it all’ might lead us to descend into envy and despondency. But we can choose how to respond to these inputs. Just because other people seem happy and fulfilled, that doesn’t mean we can’t be. There is not a finite amount of happiness to go round. We can share in the love and fulfillment we see at a distance, be inspired by it and feel glad for people.

This is a list I wrote to remind myself how to interpret other peoples’ news on social media, tailored to what is important to me in my life. You could do your own.

Musical success
It’s exiting that Liverpool acts are getting recognition. How nice that people I like are getting recognised. How nice, how happy that must make him feel inside. Good to see happiness.
Achievement in projects
That’s interesting. Great idea. They must be very organised! Admirable. I can learn so much from that.
Who’s getting paid gigs
Very good. It’s good to get paid gigs. Well done.
Female attention
Ah, so much love and connection.
Disposable income
That’s their life, this is mine.
Holiday pictures
Beautiful. I’m happy anywhere.
Friendship networks
Lovely to see connection. We’re all the same, all have the same needs. And all are connected.
Coolness.
Fun for them. That’s their thing.
Well-readness                                                                                                                                 Wow. Amazing wisdom they have absorbed!
Poetic reputation/acclaim
Well done!
Magazine success
Not interesting for me. But enjoy what you do.

One Door is Enough

eck…and still I have this feeling that I need to check out as many different spiritual traditions as I can, to select a wide range of flavours from the buffet so I’m not missing out in any spiritual vitamins. If there are people out there finding clues to enlightenment, then I need to find them too. I hold onto them, so I can finally nourish myself at a later date; there is a feeling that I need to build up weapons in my arsenal so that I can launch an assault against the ego at some later point. Or to use a less violent metaphor, I am assembling a huge spiritual jigsaw puzzle. I need to fill in all the areas and some point the overall picture will become clear.

Buddhism, Vedanta, Zen, Taoism, Gnosticism, Siberian shamanism (?!) – I’ve studied or at least had a peep at them all, and I often end up frustrated when I can’t understand ancient texts, or freaked out by traditions that are too weird for me.

It’s then that I return to this guy, who speaks in the language of today, who reminds me to stop this vain searching, who has actually digested a wide range of spiritual traditions, for what it’s worth, but knows that one door to freedom is all you need. Eckhart points out that you can only ever free yourself now, not in the future, when you are telling yourself everything will be in place. Eckhart’s message is expressed through a deep peace and compassion which, he points out, is the primary aspect of the message. So don’t worry about the words. They are only pointing to the simplest truth, which lies beneath.

 

 

Permission to Live

jump

Permission to speak

It starts with the word

Who can express

Who’s seen and not heard

 

Permission to feel

What’s deepest within

To dare to expresses it

And not fear sin

 

Permission to love

Do you have to ask

Have you been waiting

As if it’s a task?

 

Permission to heal

And see your own wealth

I give you permission

To love your true self

 

Permission – who gives it?

And who’s to recieve

Who has the right

To choose, to believe

Unconsciously, we wait for permission

Following old tracks, with clouded vision

 

Just allow it   …   Allow yourself   ….   Your self

 

A smile is contagious

It welcomes the day

Your spirit leaks out

And shows others the way

 

My neighbour upstairs

Is glad when I sing

I let my voice fly

Then she does the same thing

 

When a dancefloor is bare

It takes a decision

For one to get up

And give all permission

 

The casting off

Of unwritten rules

That we never question

And follow like mules

 

Like wildebeest waiting at the riverside

They all have to cross

It takes one has to decide

 

To reach the far shore

And find what we lack

We must realise

What’s holding us back

 

Permission

We spend our lives proscribed

Between what’s disallowed and what’s self-denied

But who’s permission do you actually need

To start a new life at a different speed?

 

I see many people

Waiting at the lights

Awaiting the signal

That lets them take flight

 

Frozen in profile

Awaiting permission

To finally move forward

And live their own vision

 

 

(Tom George 2016)