Sometimes it’s just overwhelming.
You know there are 24 hours in a day, but you always seem pressed for time. The alarm clock acts like the starter’s gun for a race and you are just going. Work responsibilities take over your day. Or maybe it’s taking care of children or an aging loved one and you put their needs ahead of yours.
With everything going amid the stress of pandemic life, it can be hard to find time just for yourself. And that may be the easiest thing to neglect because you think there’s always another day or a better time.
Often our hectic lives can make it seem like we’re standing in the middle of Times Square in New York City pre-pandemic. Even if you’ve never been to New York, the “Crossroads of the World” paints a picture of constant activity, honking horns and people brushing past each other on the sidewalks without a care.
And yet even with all this activity going on, there’s a forced pause.
If you didn’t know it before, there are stoplights in Times Square. A signal that no matter where you’re going or where you want to go, you have to take a moment to pause. How do you handle it when the light is red? Are you on edge just itching to go again or can you hit the pause button?
Can you take five of the 1,440 minutes you have each day just for yourself?
There are several benefits to turning inward through meditation. Besides reducing stress and anxiety, just five minutes of regular practice can improve your self-awareness and lengthen your attention span.
Don’t worry if you don’t feel like you’re in a different zone the first few times you try to meditate. It’s a practice and it takes time. Just work on getting into a comfortable position. You can sit in a comfortable position, a chair or just lay back.
Let your eyes become heavy or even close. It’s OK if you hear a lot of noise and can’t shut it out right away. Take notice of the background noise, whatever it may be at that moment. We often transport ourselves to a tranquil place during meditation but sometimes it’s not possible right away.
Focus on your breath.. Inhale for a count of four. Pause and release for a count of four. Inhale for four. Hold for a moment and let it go slowly for a count of four. Repeat that pattern a few times.
Breathe in and this time lengthen your pause before exhaling. Continue to breathe and pause before letting go on your own count. The more you can focus on your breathing, the more the distracting noises ebb away. Sometimes in meditation five minutes can seem like forever. But the more you do it, the more you’ll wonder where the time went.
When you come to the end of your meditation, allow yourself to gently become present. Rub your fingers together lightly. Place your hands over your eyes and slowly let them open.
When you start to feel there’s not enough time for you, just think about a stoplight and remember we all need to pause. Whether you’re in New York City, Las Vegas, Paris, Moscow, Tokyo, Dubai or Mumbai, there’s always a need to pause. Just like a yellow light means to slow down, we all need to remember to pause.
Take another deep breath.
The light is green. Travel mindfully and safely.