Meditation the art of relaxing the body quickly and calming the mind – Is based on simple principles and is remarkably easy to do. By learning to meditate, we reclaim a skill often lost since childhood: the ability to relax at will and return to a state of balance at any time in the day.
Meditation can show us who we are and how to act intelligently in a less than intelligent world.
So why don’t we all do more of it? Most people will say they haven’t got the time. Typically they say they can’t find the time to meditate, even the retired and the seriously ill. If you think of meditation as thirty minutes of sitting still and ‘doing nothing’, you may well feel you’re too busy or too stressed to do it. The common refrain is ‘I know I should do more of it but..
In fact, meditation is easy to integrate into almost any day, once you know how. Over the years, I’ve practiced what I call ‘spot-meditations’ that are very short and can be done anywhere and anytime. You can easily relax while walking, eating or doing exercise or even housework (ok I don’t do this one too often). You can use the ‘waste’ time, when you’re waiting, or in public transport or trying to fall asleep at night. It is possible to do twenty to fifty spot meditations a day.
I found that spot-meditations gave me the answer. By relaxing rapidly for a minute or two, many times a day, I can stop the daily challenges overwhelming me. I think more clearly and am more attuned to what I am doing. Since spot-meditations also enhance sensory awareness, I am often ‘ambushed by beauty’ and ‘surprised by joy’, even during the most pedestrian of days. By keeping the substrata of my mind clean, they even make my long meditations more satisfying.
People who meditate regularly know the good results percolate somewhat through the hours that follow. However the effect of the previous night’s long meditation is vanishingly faint compared to what a spot-meditation can do for you right now.
By meditating ‘on the spot’, I find I don’t need stress-free surroundings and an introverted life for a good quality of mind. These modest little exercises have far exceeded my expectations and have taken me in directions I never imagined possible.
JUST BE HERE
The reality is that relaxing a little many times a day is much more valuable than relaxing deeply just once. A long meditation is a wonderful and useful escape, like taking a holiday to Bali, but spot meditating can keep you balanced and clear-minded in the midst of the turmoil. Moreover spot-meditations are actually possible in our complex lives. We can’t wait for our next trip to Bali whenever we feel stressed.
Spot-meditating is unspectacular but the long-term effects are incalculable. If you eat with awareness, you’re likely to eat less and enjoy it more, and to eat the food that is good for you. On the other hand, if you eat mechanically, you’re more likely to be overweight and miserable.
If you walk consciously, you can walk with ease, shedding the tensions of the preceding minutes and enjoying the world around you. If you walk consumed in thought, however, you could be reinforcing the muscular rigidity of a lifetime.
If you relax a little whenever you can, you’ll pace yourself well and feel you have the space and time to enjoy your life. Alternatively, if you push yourself relentlessly, you’ll feel harassed and tired most of the time. Spot-meditations will soften the daily stresses and refresh your day much better than long meditations.
WHAT IS A SPOT-MEDITATION?
To make the idea of ‘being here’ come to life, it has to be done as a conscious exercise. You can’t just think, ‘be here’, while you do the dishes and expect much satisfaction..
A spot-meditation is any meditation between ten seconds and ten minutes long, done under any circumstances. It is when you meditate ‘on the spot’. Many of the exercises need only be a minute long, while some naturally stretch out to ten minutes or so.
There are two main types of spot-meditations. With some, you relax rapidly for a short time – while in a waiting room or a queue for example – by giving them full attention. In other words, you stop what you are doing in order to meditate. The other kind is where you meditate while also doing something else. If you aim to be relaxed and aware while walking or doing housework, you can easily continue for several minutes.
You could also develop your repertoire of spot-meditations. If you set yourself the goal of being relaxed and clear-minded in everything you do, that will keep you busy for a year or two.
I’ve always done spot-meditations, but in recent years they’ve become the cornerstone of my practice. Long meditations were always easy for me to do, but to be calm and clear-minded in the midst of an ordinary life was more of a challenge. Paradoxically this means that spot meditations are both the entry-level for new meditators – they’re so easy to do – and they’re also the graduate level, capable of endless subtleties and unexpected rewards. Spot-meditating is where you start, but it is also what skilled meditators do when they get off their cushions.
I love these rewarding little practices. They de-stress me rapidly and bring beauty and intelligence into my working day. Physical exercise keeps my body healthy; spot-meditations revitalise my soul. These modest and self- effacing practices can eventually give you results that are almost miraculous.
Please try them out and be playful with them. Your imagination can be your own best guide. May you get as much satisfaction from them as I do.
Whilst there are numerous spot meditations you can practise; her are 2 of my favourites that I have already blogged about: