No doubt you've been hearing loads about the benefits of mindfulness and starting a meditation practice. Maybe you're convinced by all the studies and testimonials from top entrepreneurs and are determined to start a practice.
Great! The only problem: Good intentions don't count. As author and meditation teacher Susan Salzberg recently explained on Inc.com, "[Meditation] is just like physical exercise--thinking about it admiringly doesn't do it."
Which, while not at all surprising, can be a little disheartening, because starting a meditation practice can be difficult for some people. We need to train ourselves to be alone with our thoughts precisely because it's hard (so hard, in fact, that one recent study found many people would rather give themselves an electric shock than do it). What should you do if you're among the group of people who think a mild shock sounds preferable to sitting alone for 15 minutes?
According to psychologist Dr. Mike Brooks, the first thing to know is that you're not a hopeless case. While a longer practice is a great eventual goal, if you're struggling to get started with one, there is an alternative--smaller bursts of mindfulness spread throughout your day. "You can get the benefits of a formal meditation practice by weaving mini-meditations into your daily life," he told Fast Company. To achieve this, he offers several meditation hacks to slip mindfulness into your jam-packed day.
1. Walking meditation
Maybe you have an energetic dog or have vowed to take more short walks to counteract the negative effects of sitting. These strolls are a great place to begin working meditation into your life. "While walking your dog, to get the mail, or just around the block," Brooks writes on his blog, "choose a focus of your attention--the songs of birds, the feel of the ground beneath your feet, the wind in your hair."
2. Driving meditation
You probably have to do them anyway, so why not turn your commute or daily errands into an opportunity to practice mindfulness (rather than a chance to increase your misery)? "For small periods of time while driving, just turn off devices and just focus on the road and the driving experience," instructs Brooks.
3. Walking or cycling meditation
The same can work if you run or cycle to work. "Just turn off any devices … for chunks of time and just focus on the experience--the sounds, the sights, the smells, the exertion of your muscles, etc." Brooks says.
4. Eating/drinking meditation
Lunchtime is the perfect opportunity to slip in a bit of meditation: "As you eat or drink, just focus on the various flavors, textures, and sensations of the particular food or drink. Savor!" So stop wolfing down that sandwich, and enjoy it.
5. Waiting meditation
This might sound like a huge challenge for the most impatient among us, but Brooks suggests that "when you find yourself in a line at Starbucks or the supermarket or at a red light, just breathe and observe your surroundings (e.g., the sights, sounds, and smells) or you can use the time to make some inner observations (e.g., are your muscles tense, are you cold, hot, thirsty, hungry?)."