No Time for Mindfulness

A complaint I have heard many times over the years I have been teaching mindfulness is: “I am far too busy to practice mindfulness.” I thought I would say a few words about that.

When I first started meditating my main job was working for my parents on their dairy farm. While we were quite busy (as any dairy farmer can attest), I made a point of following my instructor’s instructions to meditate twice daily for twenty minutes each time. There were times when my parents were not pleased about this. The reason I was so dedicated is that at the time I was severely depressed, though I didn’t recognize my condition as such. I was convinced that my problem was stress and that meditating would help with that—and it did.

I was drowning and meditation was my life preserver. However, as I started recovering I sometimes got so busy I forgot to meditate. One missed session led to another. Soon weeks passed, then months, then–I’m sorry to report—years. However, as more time passed since my last meditation some of my old symptoms returned.

In my youth I suffered migraine headaches. Regular meditation kept them at bay. After some years of not meditating they returned. Insomnia returned. I found time to start again.

When I worked in manufacturing I would meditate on my breaks. When I was the director of the mental health facility I sometimes meditated on breaks, but generally saved it for after work. As my understanding of mindfulness grew I found that I could do many tasks placed before me in a mindful way and I became more efficient and effective.

What I tell people now is this: Most people, if they really want to, can find even five or ten minutes at some point to do a deep relaxation type of mindfulness practice. For example: counting your breath or using a mantra. This will get you practiced in gently directing your attention to one thing; and it will give you experience with the “Relaxation Response”.

I think most people have heard of the “fight or flight” response to stress. The relaxation response is the opposite of that. Things that go up during fight or flight, like heart rate and blood pressure, go down during the relaxation response—and for a while afterward.

So, start with deep relaxation. Then, as you go through your day see if you can use the same skill of directing your attention to one thing to direct your attention to the tasks that present themselves. Most people find that as they do that they become more effective and can finish tasks in less time. So they end up with more time.

Additionally, as they incorporate other principles of mindfulness like acceptance and compassion things just don’t bother them so much. With less on their mind they become more efficient and have more time.

So, people who say they don’t have time for mindfulness are on a treadmill of their own choosing. They can get off if they choose. They can find five or ten minutes a day to start a new life.

If you want to learn more about meditation check out the sample chapter of The Mindful Lifestyle on this website:

2 thoughts on “No Time for Mindfulness

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