Meditation is my life blood. My days feel better when I start them with meditation, even the bad days. I have touched into something inside me which only grows more familiar with time…I am reminded of the inner resources which we all have at our disposal. We only need to cultivate them…and at times, despite my best intentions, I miss a cultivation session.
The “miss” in the title is not a yearning to be back on the meditation cushion at some point in a busy day - though that wish might be there! Rather I am referring to those days when I do not get round to a formal meditation session. I say this well aware that I can be prone to rarely agreeing with people when they say, “but I never have time to meditate.” I still believe that if we want to meditate we can carve out some time in the day. Yet despite all of those beliefs….I still miss some days. If I do any meditation on such days, it is done “on the hoof,” as I go about my normal day. And the trick is to be comfortable about that while not making it a habit - _meditation _is the habit that we are aiming for.
We find time for so many things in life - checking our social media feeds, watching television, reading a book, taking a walk,
But sometimes even the best made plans are interrupted. We have to be careful here, the mind is tricky. Meditation is a marathon not a sprint and not every mile of that marathon is comfortable. If you do not have strong enough resolution, an uncomfortable mile will see you drop out of the race, perhaps never to return again.
Sometimes though we have to get up so so much earlier to catch a flight or train to travel to a meeting. We are on the go all day, exhausted and distracted. Or we wake up, our head blocked and energy drained. Yes, if we are feeling alert enough we can use time on a flight or train, or even while lying unwell in bed to close our eyes and drop into meditation - just don’t fall asleep! All of these situations offer opportunities to do some meditation, a little more of that below, but when a tired mind finds it hard to focus, allow yourself to be comfortable with that. With the intention to get back into your routine as soon as your life allows it, recognize that you are resting your mind for when your energy does lift. Do not allow yourself to build more stress into your life with, _”I must find the time…” _Instead practice acceptance and letting go into the hand that you have been dealt that day.
Missing a formal meditation session does not mean that your meditation practice has to miss a beat. In part it depends on the way that we choose to view what meditation is and isn’t.
When I visited the Tibetan monasteries in South India I was always impressed how the monks kept their practice going even when they were busy with monastic duties - the monasteries are monastic universities, and aside from study and prayer time there are the pragmatics of running these organizations and younger monks running errands and cooking meals for their older teachers. For some of the monks this might mean getting up in the morning and launching straight into work. As they went about their duties, the young monks’ lips would be moving as they recited their prayers (read, “meditating”). These prayers, linked to meditative visualizations and reflections on the words that they were reciting, all playing a part in the transformation of the heart that meditation gives to us.
In a similar way your busy day need not be an impediment to your meditation practice. Be creative, look for those moments when you can bring yourself back to the present. Stop and be aware of those sips of your morning coffee - feel yourself bringing the cup to your mouth, and the coffee gliding down your throat. As you walk between meetings or to catch a bus instead of getting lost in thought or worry, be aware of yourself walking, of your feet lifting from the ground and then being placed back on the earth. Have you been put on hold while making a call on the phone? Meditate while waiting for someone to answer. Even if you go to the toilet, use that quiet moment to sit and watch the breath.
Be creative, look for those opportunities, even if it is a snatch of meditation. You are keeping the momentum going. You are building the habit.
Do you have any strategies to keep your meditation practice on track when life gets busy? Or is it truly a struggle to balance meditation practice with life commitments?