“Meditate you say?! I’ve barely got time to get some clean knickers out of the dryer in a morning.”
These were my EXACT words once to a coach who was working with me on dealing with my hectic, stressy lifestyle. I remember her chuckling at me and looking like she’d never had a busy morning in her life. You know the type of woman I mean. Rolls out of bed with a fresh-faced glow, classy curls sweeping down her back, matching jewellery and polished nails (I vividly remember her nails, seeing as I hadn’t ‘had time’ to do mine since the early noughties). She slips into a serene sun salutation before breakfasting on homemade granola, then languidly looks through her diary only to gasp in terror when she saw that I was her first client of the day. That kind of woman.
Except she wasn’t of course. She was a busy business woman, mum of THREE (eeeek) and her life was undoubtedly crazier than mine at the time. I aspired to be like her but felt that I was failing spectacularly. She was, in my eyes, just brilliant. Super-human perhaps. So when she suggested I try meditation I loved the sound of it but was already formulating a million reasons that I wouldn’t be able to do it. She talked me through some of the benefits of meditation, explaining that it:
- Lowers your emotional arousal (stress in my case, anxiety in many others).
- Increases your serotonin level, therefore positively influencing mood and behaviour.
- Helps you to control your own thoughts.
- Improves your focus and increases concentration.
- Is linked to increased productivity.
- Can help you to sleep.
- Helps you to keep things in perspective.
And there are tonnes more. Still, I scoffed but she was a fabulous coach and so I promised to give it a go. We discussed putting a smiley face in my diary for every day that I did at least a 20-minute meditation and when I had a full week’s streak I could give myself a reward. I chose a manicure!!! So, now I had a strong incentive to try (remember my unloved nails!)
I remember the first few days. I’d lay on my bed and listen to a track that she gave me. I didn’t understand what the hell it was supposed to be doing. Suddenly my brain would be filled with “to-do’s” and “oh, just remember’s”. I’d be mentally writing my shopping list, or wondering what to buy my sister for her birthday. Her instructions (which are now mine to clients) were that every time I noticed that my attention had wandered all I had to do was to bring my focus back to my breathing (see How to Meditate here).
After just a few days I began to notice a slight difference. Just a little. I became more aware of the thoughts going round and round in my brain and I became more motivated to take action on them. It began to feel easier to notice when my concentration was waning and to bring it back. I recognised when I was becoming overwhelmed and could begin to do something about it. As I went for my manicure I felt pretty smug. However, after a while, life began to get in the way and before I knew it my meditation time had been taken over by something “more important”.
Now I amuse myself saying that, but back then I hadn’t bought into the whole “actually, I come first” mantra that I did later in life. After a few goes at meditating until I felt better and then stopping so I’d go back to old patterns, I finally recognised that I definitely felt better when I was consistently meditating. So I had to figure out a way to fit it into my busy life consistently.
How Busy Women Meditate
If you’re under the impression that you need an hour a day then you’re definitely being misled! Meditation can be done in the form of mindfulness. Taking a few moments to focus on your breathing can pull you back to the here and now, rather than living in the future. I’m creating some short 10 minute downloadable meditations at the moment that can be listened to when you just have a quick break. The first one is available here.
Almost every night I go to sleep to some form of meditation track. It helps get me in a fully relaxed state. You can absolutely fall asleep while doing it and that’s fine! The idea is that it relaxes you and keeps you present.
Focusing at linking your breathing to your steps is an excellent and efficient way to meditate. If you have time, slow your walking down and take a step per breath. If not, no stress! Take a breath for every few steps. The key is to focus on what you’re doing.
In the Shower
Use the water to cultivate a meditative state. I use a delicious smelling shower gel and shampoo and inhale the smells, feeling them filling me with joy and positivity. Then I imagine negativity and stress being washed away from me and swirling down the plughole. I try to enjoy the shower, rather than seeing it as something else to rush through in order to get ready. That doesn’t mean I linger, but that I consciously try and use the time I’m in there anyway.
Before you write the email or make the phone call, take a minute to take a few calming deep breaths and imagine what you want the outcome to be. This is not the same as worrying about what the outcome will be. Take control of your mind as only you can and lead it where you’d like it to go. This will make the outcome far more likely to be one that you desire. After all – what you focus on is what you get.
How do you fit meditation into your day? If you have any great tips head over to our Facebook page and leave your suggestions there, or comment below. We love to hear from you!