“When people say to me, ‘I don’t have time to meditate.’ I reply, ‘Do you have time to feel like crap?'” ~Gabrielle Bernstein
Our culture fuels the busy badge, where people proudly proclaim that they’re too busy to do the things they should and want to be doing.
But the truth is—we make time for the things we really want to do—the things we prioritize. By far and wide, my favorite excuse for not meditating when I first began was that I didn’t have enough time. But once I began a consistent practice, time appeared. More time than I had before.
Meditation retrains your brain to be more efficient, to focus, and to not spend time worrying about things that don’t deserve your attention. Most people spend a lot of time repeating the same thoughts over and over in their mind. When we condition our minds to get clear and focus, we are able to get much more done. So, the first step to prioritizing meditation is to fully understand that it will open up more time in your schedule.
The question still remains: how do you find the time? You probably have a lot going on. A full schedule. A demanding job. A busy life. How on earth will meditation fit into the picture?
The answer is easy: Create it. I’m going to recommend a few specific tips to guide you, but the best method is the one that works for you and the one you’ll stick with.
Keep it Simple
Keep your meditation practice as short and simple as you need to, in order to make sure you are practicing every day. A lot of teachers and programs will say that you need to meditate for a certain amount of time, at a specific time of day, or even twice a day to reap the rewards of meditation. In my opinion, when you’re first starting out, the most important thing is to find a time that works best for your busy schedule. If that means only 10 minutes while the kids are napping mid-afternoon or five minutes at the office before lunchtime; it doesn’t really matter—as long as you’re consistent. Which brings me to my next tip…
There is power in creating ritual. Studies say it takes 21 days or more to form a habit. So while it doesn’t happen overnight, getting used to a new routine also isn’t out of reach.
- Choose a time and stick with it: Choose a time, for example first thing in the morning, and stick with it for a few weeks. If that time slot doesn’t feel right to you after the month is over, try a new time slot. But give the trial practice a fair chance; it will take some time before any change feels natural.
- Try RPM: I learned this acronym at the Chopra Center for Wellbeing, while taking my first Primordial Sound Meditation course. It stands for: Rise. Pee. Meditate. When you meditate first thing in the morning, nothing can get in the way of your meditation. Don’t check your phone or email and don’t start a conversation with your spouse or kids. Plan your wake-up time to be before life calls you to start the day, so you can get up and meditate.
- Shorter and consistent beats longer and inconsistent: Consistency is the number one obstacle people face and the single most effective guideline you can follow to help you avoid other obstacles. So shorten your practice time if you need to, in order to maintain the regular routine.
Schedule your meditations and mindfulness practice wherever you schedule your other important tasks and commitments, whether that’s in Microsoft Outlook, Google Calendar, or on the white board beside your desk.
Whether it’s a mid-day break for deep breathing, meditation, or a mindful walk, make it non-negotiable by setting reminders and scheduling your time—to ensure you sneak your mindfulness practice into each day.
There are ways you can use technology to support your meditation and mindfulness practices. There are many different apps out there that will help you stay on track and avoid skipping your practice. Check out the meditation apps I recommended in this post to find the best one for your needs.
Just start with one or two things at first and build from there. If you start with an impractical length for your meditations, you’ll get nowhere quickly and could get discouraged.
So take baby steps, and be realistic with yourself. As you build your practice from there, if the excuse of “not enough time” surfaces often, make sure to remind yourself that any amount of time meditating—even just a few minutes—is better than nothing at all.
*This post was adapted from the book, The Type A’s Guide to Mindfulness: Meditation for Busy Minds and Busy People.