For ambitious (read: “busy”) people, such as ourselves, meditation seems like this unachievable utopia of peace, stillness, and quiet. I have heard from many women that there are way too many thoughts flowing through their head for them to meditate. And even if they could get that clamor to settle every once in a while—with responsibilities at home, at work, at church, and in the community—how would they even find the time to meditate?
The National Institute of Health shares, “Meditation has a long history of use for increasing calmness and physical relaxation, improving psychological balance, coping with illness, and enhancing overall health and well-being.” I have personally found that meditation helps to temper headaches, keep headaches from becoming migraines, regulate feelings of anxiety, and regain control in overwhelming situations. Meditation also helps me invite more eustress, healthy stress, into my overall life. Because I am committed to prioritizing my peace, I have started paying attention to the moments that present themselves for me to meditate.
Here is how I have found time to weave meditation into my busy schedule…
Meditate in the bathroom.
For me, the bathroom is the most sacred space in the home. It is a place where you can be both vulnerable and safe. You literally strip down to the essence of who you are. So, instead of grabbing your phone or another device during a restroom break, try using this as a time to meditate (especially if you plan to be there a while *smiles*).
Insert meditation into your AM or PM routine.
Routines guide our day, without us consciously thinking about it. For example, what are the first three things you do every morning? Now list the last three things you do every night. Pausing to consciously think about it takes more energy than just letting it happen. Inserting meditation into this routine will help it become a natural occurrence, rather than a pressure-laden “to do” item. Consider attaching meditation to something you already do regularly. For example, you may try meditating while brushing your teeth. Gather your thoughts into what you are doing at the present moment. Or maybe you center your thoughts on a particular Scripture, phrase, or affirmation while you shower. I started meditating more regularly when I attached it to my morning skincare routine. I would consider lessons I learned about myself the previous day while moisturizing my face. By the time I had gotten to my toes, I had begun meditating on who I wanted to be in the day to come. After a while, I started to separate meditation from the activity of skincare, and it became its own standalone portion of my morning routine.
Take your journal.
When we are out and about, it can be more tempting to buzz through the day. With hundreds of read-but-not-responded-to texts, thousands of unread emails, and too many meetings to actually get anything done—pausing on purpose during the day can provide a sense of sanity and control. Consider taking your journal on the journey to help you meditate. You may journal on the train ride to the office, or you may journal at your desk during your lunch break (instead of feverishly responding to emails). Here are 30 prompts to get you started. I often work from home. On my most outrageous (read: “try Jesus, don’t try me”) days, I keep my journal near my laptop. This way, it is right there to remind me of my morning prayers, or to take a few vent-laden scribbles when the day is refusing to unfurl in the way I planned. Journaling is a great way to center your thoughts while reminding yourself to breathe, affirm, and reflect.
Remove the pressure of “every day”.
I mentioned journaling as a form of meditation. But I also identify with what many busy women have shared with me: “It sounds nice, but when can I truly do it? What do I even write about?” While I’ve journaled off and on since about 5th grade (many thanks to weekends spent with “Doug Funnie” and Nickelodeon), I can agree that finding the time to do so and the mental clarity to do so has been a struggle in the current season. However, I don’t want to give up completely, because I know the benefits of carving out this space to reflect and re-center. Even as a wellness practitioner, there are days when I have forgotten to eat, days when I couldn’t fall asleep, and days when I did too much of both! Nonetheless, what remains constant every day is that I live and breathe. So, don’t feel like you have to force meditation or journaling if today just isn’t the day for you. Pressuring yourself to meditate just to say you did leeches the benefits of pausing on purpose.
Remove the pressure of “a long time”.
Don’t feel like you have to force 20 minutes of meditation when 20 seconds is today’s best effort. Instead, think quality over quantity. Perhaps sprinkling moments of meditation throughout your day is a better fit for your lifestyle. Referring back to placing meditation within your routine, you might choose to meditate every time you wash your hands. The CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds to promote optimal hygiene and prevent the spread of diseases such as COVID-19. In countries with the facilities to do so, most people wash their hands at least five times per day. So, by adopting meditation as part of your handwashing routine, you could potentially enjoy five (or more) intentional meditation moments every day. Maybe you use this time to breathe, affirm, and reflect on a word of the day, such as gratitude. Or maybe you repeat your favorite affirmation aloud several times. Use your meditation moment to envision what that word/affirmation means to you and how you can invite more of it to take up residence in your day and in your life.
Read through old journal passages.
On the other hand, if you don’t feel like meditating, but you still want to bring yourself into a reflective space, consider reading through old journal passages. I typically do this on Sabbath. I’ll read through old journal passages, sermon notes, or notes from devotions. Reading through previous passages gives you an opportunity to identify any personal growth, regression, or cycles in your life. Again, you don’t have to force anything—length of time, how often, or when you do it. Sometimes the intentional act of pause is exactly what your core self needs to recalibrate.
Don’t worry about what you’ll “do”.
So, you’ve carved out some time to meditate, now what? Haha. Figuring out what to think (or not think) about, especially when all the voices in your head want to be heard, can be pretty daunting for folks who are used to being on the go. However, even our favorite Olympic athletes are trained to pause before the most life-defining moments and center their thoughts. That is meditation’s gift to you: a moment to take every thought captive.
Here is a good starting point for your journaling, affirmation, or meditation practice. I’ve already done all the “what should I do/not do/think about/not think about and for how long” planning for you. Exhale: Women’s Wellness Journal features 30 affirmations in 6 strategic cups of wellness, that are ideal for busy people like ourselves. The affirmations help you to release what no longer serves you and create space for what does. This guided journal also walks you through how to incorporate deep breathing into your practice, which has been shown to have a positive impact on heart rate, stress, anxiety, and mental well-being. Additionally, brief prompts after each passage give you space to reflect on the affirmation and take it with you throughout the day. Remember, you’re not doing this for everyone else; you’re doing this for you. As your meditation practice evolves, you will too. You’ll begin to find your own ways to weave meditation moments into your life routine. Simply start by taking it one day, one breathe, one moment at a time.
Dr. Asha—speaker, educator, published author, and radio host—is aptly known as the Creator of Healthy Conversations. Her life purpose is to teach the busy and overwhelmed how to live life abundantly. She is an educational consultant and owner of the Temple Fit Company, LLC, and she is the director of Temple Fit Health, Inc. faith-based wellness nonprofit organization. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (972) 850-6940. You can also visit http://www.templefit.co, https://www.instagram.com/doctorasha/, or https://www.facebook.com/doc.asha1. Grab one of Dr. Asha’s recent books and book her for your upcoming program.