How to Integrate Meditation into Your Busy Life

Creating space for mindfulness despite your schedule.

Jan 27, 2020

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In a fast-paced modern world, the day never seems to stop. How can you find the time for wellness-boosting meditation with busy work schedules, social events, and nonstop distractions from technology?

But as the Zen proverb goes: “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day - unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour.” It’s totally worthwhile to make the time to meditate during the day.

When we become too distracted by work and socializing, we lose sight of the true essence of life. That means it’s time to find practical ways to integrate meditation into busy lives. Here’s how you can slot mindfulness into your day.

Start the day with a short morning meditation
If you wake up to an alarm every morning, it can feel like a feat unto itself just to get out of bed! But research published in JAMA Internal Medicine found meditation helpful in relieving anxiety, pain, and depression.

Burke Lennihan, a registered nurse who teaches meditation at the Harvard University Center for Wellness, told Harvard Health:

“Start with 10 minutes, or even commit to five minutes twice a day. Preferably meditate at the same time every morning. That way you'll establish the habit, and soon you'll always meditate in the morning, just like brushing your teeth."

You can start with a few minutes of mindful breathing or perhaps try a relaxing Tai Chi session. Yoga is a great idea, too; backbend poses invigorate your nervous system so you can start to wake up naturally (just make sure to warm up the body first).

Meditate throughout the day with mindful walking
Meditation might make you think of someone sitting cross legged on a mat with their eyes closed. But you can meditate in all kinds of ways, including while walking.

Rather than rushing around to get from one place to another, you can turn walking into something intentional and sacred. To practice mindful walking, inhale and slowly place your foot on the ground. As you breathe out, bring awareness as you take the next step. Continue the practice, and if your thoughts wander, gently bring your focus back to each step and breathe.

You can easily incorporate mindful walking into your day. If you walk to work, or even from your car to the office, try practicing mindful walking with each step. Or you can turn dog walking into a meditation practice. On a sunny day, head to the park or the beach to enjoy a little exercise, fresh air, and walking meditation.

Practice mindful eating
With to-go coffee mugs and fast food restaurants, many people quickly gulp down their meals without much attention. But by rushing through eating, you lose your connection to the food and tend to eat too much or consume the wrong things.

You can turn your mealtimes into meditation sessions through mindful eating. This practice involves promoting awareness as you eat by savoring each bite and showing gratitude for food. Sit down in a quiet space with fewer distractions. As you prepare your meal, notice the sensations: the aromas of each ingredient, how they feel on your skin, the colors and sounds.

As you begin to eat, chew slowly and rhythmically to notice each bite. Appreciate all of those who labored – raising the animals, toiling the soil, shipping ingredients from far away – to bring this food to your plate. Give thanks to the plants and animals that nourish you. Once you have finished, bow in gratitude for the food that brings you energy and life.

End the day with a short breathing meditation
At the end of the day, you’ll want to calm your thoughts to prepare the body for sleep. What better way than through meditation? Studies have shown that practicing meditation will even help you sleep better and decrease insomnia.

Set aside a few minutes before bedtime for meditation before you go to sleep. You can practice mindful breathing or, if you prefer, try using one of the many apps with guided meditations available to download on your smartphone.

As you can see, it’s possible to turn everyday actions into beneficial meditations with just a little forethought and determination. Suddenly, your packed schedule doesn’t seem so inflexible anymore.

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ALLISON MICHELLE DIENSTMAN, CONTRIBUTOR
Working from her laptop as a freelance writer, Allison lives as a digital nomad, exploring the world while sharing positivity and laughter. She is a lover of language, travel, music, and creativity with a degree in Chinese language and literature.