MINDFULNESS MEDITATION CAN be a real challenge when you feel you’re constantly running out of time. Do you maybe recognise this?
You feel as if you function on autopilot…
You feel as if your agenda controls your entire life…
You find it exhausting to combine the responsibility of a demanding job with the care for your family….
You often wonder is this is all that life has in stock for you…
You’d like to have more control over your thoughts, feelings and emotions…
… if this is what you experience regularly, let me assure you that there is a way to balancing and enriching your life with all the goodness of mindfulness — without having to go through the time-consuming process of learning the art of mindfulness meditation.
Let’s be honest: you only have one life. Aren’t you entitled to make the most of your unique, precious life?
I encourage you to read on, because this might be just the article that could make a profound change in your life.
In the meantime you’re welcome to download my free e-book that I’ve written especially for you and in which I explain exactly how my mindfulness approach can give your life a positive boost.
Why mindfulness meditation isn’t a very practical option for people like you and me
My name is Marisa Garau and I can tell you from my own life experience that mindfulness without weirdy beardy meditations can and will help you get back into control and change your life for the better. In this article I will explain the principles of easy mindfulness without having to spend hours a day on a meditation cushion.
Mindfulness is a clinically proven method to reduce stress and to help you recover from burnout, depression and anxiety. This simply means that it really works.
People who are stressed out, then start to practise mindfulness…
feel less tense and more balanced
have more patience
accept life the way it is
hold on less rigidly to notions of how life’s supposed to be
respond flexibly to every challenge which life throws at them
Tip: also read my in-depth article what is mindfulness
Still, it is my experience that, despite the positive research results, only some people really feel better after following the standard mindfulness training. And that’s easy to explain.
Every clinical mindfulness test, involving professional psychologists and specific test groups, are being taken in exceptionally positive circumstances. Circumstances that are quite different from your and my hectic life!
In the world of mindfulness two tests always make the headlines:
1. MINDFULNESS IN HOSPITALS
Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction training as we know it, researched the influence of meditation on terminally ill people in the hospital where he worked as a biologist. Each day the patients were offered a mindfulness meditation through the hospital’s internal video system. They were also guided and monitored by a specialist team of psychologists. Day in day out they participated in the video meditations and exercises. And yes, it worked! These very ill and greatly suffering people not only reported that they experienced less anxiety and less pain, but also that negative thoughts about their imminent death did not impact them as much as before the test.
2. MINDFULNESS IN STATE PRISONS
Mindfulness tests run in prisons in all parts of the US also report extremely positive results. Every day the participating prisoners do a guided mindfulness meditation, helped and monitored by a team of psychologists. The results are mind boggling: none less than 90% of the inmates who participate in the mindfulness training and the test, give up on their criminal career once they are released.
Sounds good, but there’s a big BUT
Obviously, these are super-good results but there is a drawback: the circumstances in which these tests were done, are highly exceptional. In a hospital or a prison there is no ‘normal’ life as we know it — it’s very different from our day-to-day lives.
Also, during the tests the mindfulness meditation and exercises are being offered every single day, under the intensive guidance of professionals. Let’s be honest: in such extraordinary circumstances mindfulness would definitely work for us too, won't it?
Your reality is that there isn’t a team of psychology professionals at your service who kindly feed you your daily portion of mindfulness meditation.
The reality is that we have to do everything ourselves in our daily lives. Of course it’s easy to follow the 8-week mindfulness training… but once completed you’ll have to muster up the discipline to do a 45-minute mindfulness meditation everyday. I know from my own experience with fellow participants that you will seriously never do this.
And so it happens that the standard mindfulness meditation is being practised on a daily basis by very few people, because it:
demands too much of your time
is too complicated
is too confrontational — and not always as relaxing as you’d expect
After a day’s hard work — getting groceries from the supermarket, cooking a decent meal, playing with the kids and doing a wash — most of us are grateful to simply crash on the couch and watch some TV before going to bed.
The most important question that we should be asking ourselves is: does mindfulness meditation work at all?
Apart from the hassle of scheduling meditation within your daily routines, it’s only reasonable to ask yourself if mindfulness meditation works at all.
In the past I have had different meditation teachers, in the Netherlands as well as in New Zealand. They meditated everyday for hours on end… but I’ve seen with my own eyes that these meditation die-hards were emotionally vulnerable and even clinically depressed.
Most people are not able to put their carefully grown meditation peace to good use when challenged by everyday stresses.
As soon as they rise from their meditation cushion and get to work, they are being overwhelmed by the demands of their busy life and stressed out as easily as any of us.
If you happen to meditate or practise yoga, you must recognise this — during the yoga session you’re wonderfully relaxed and all zen. But as soon as you arrive at work and learn that you have been given a tight deadline, you will stress out just as easily as your colleagues do.
Meditation simply doesn’t always work and doesn’t work for just anybody
Even Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of the mindfulness training as we know it, understands that doing a 45-minute meditation everyday is too much of a hassle for people like you and me. Recently he has adjusted this recommendation, and all certified mindfulness trainers now teach a 30-minute mindfulness meditation.
Of course, a decrease of only 15 minutes still won’t tempt people with busy lives to start meditating, but it’s obvious that the master himself acknowledges that meditation for many people with a regular (thus busy) life isn’t the world’s most practical solution to lowering stress-levels.
So if you’re like me and you don’t have time for meditation, then why not try a different approach?
The good news is that mindfulness also offers a totally different approach than meditation only, which doesn’t even guarantee the best results.
The mindfulness principles don’t only teach the importance of meditation. What’s just as important (and what most mindfulness gurus ignore) is:
‘being mindful in everything you do’
Doing rather than thinking. Getting to work and practising mindfulness while working through all those tasks and chores, minor and major, which you do on a daily basis anyway.
This for me has been the best way to anchor mindfulness in my life and everything I do. In the first five years, after I had discovered the power of mindfulness, I did the daily meditation, at home as well as in a meditation group guided by one of my mindfulness teachers. But then I started to noticed that I found myself sitting less and less frequently on my meditation cushion… because I was applying and practising mindfulness in all the daily things I did.
Common, down-to-earth mindfulness without any frills — which is very easy to do and which you can rely on while coping with all the challenges life throws at you.
Because this is actually what you want to achieve.
You want to be mindful — especially in stressful situations… when you’re feeling pressured… when you’re feeling rejected… when you’re sad about what happened to you in the past… In short: when your busy thoughts work overtime and you can’t seem to liberate yourself from your suffocating thinking process that goes round and round and round.
Here are 3 steps you can do today to get back in control and experience contentment and inner peace
If you’d like to start bringing a new balance in your life today and feeling more relaxed, follow my practical 3-step-plan which I have developed for you:
STEP 1: START PAYING ATTENTION
If you feel as if you’re stuck in a rigid daily routine without being able to free up time for yourself, you are functioning in autopilot mode: without awareness. The autopilot mode is clearly recognisable when you’re on your way to work and you suddenly think: ‘Gosh, did I lock the front door or not?’ Locking the front door is such a deeply engrained habit, that you lock it without paying any attention. And so you don’t remember when you consciously think about it.
Functioning on autopilot is suffocating, as it wraps your life in a thick fog of dull habits. You don’t really think anymore, and so everything you do turns into a grey soup without any colour or flavour, except for the extremely stressful events which scream for your attention. No wonder that, living such a colourless existence, you sometimes wonder ‘if this is the best that life can do?’
Attention and awareness is the key to give your life its original colour and flavour back. So start paying attention to everything you do, from drinking your coffee in the morning to undressing in the evening, and you’ll immediately notice that your life will become more meaningful and joyful.
STEP 2: PERFORM ONE TASK AT A TIME
Multitasking seems to be a must to us modern people, but in fact we all pay a high price for this irrational behaviour. Research results tell us that multitasking doesn’t actually save time, but only costs more time because you can’t focus. Apart from wasting precious time, multitasking causes a constant sense of inadequacy and chronic stress. Not so good for your heart and all those ultra refined processes in your body which make sure that all life-sustaining systems run smoothly.
If you intend to do more tasks a day, limit it to only three tasks. Now you choose one task and work on that exclusively, without worrying about all the other tasks you want to do. Focus your attention only on this task, work on it with dedication and joy, then complete this task in a calm, respectful way. Only then you start working on task two. This allows you to — at the end of the day — look back on things you’ve actually completed, after which you will go to bed with a calm and content heart.
STEP 3: DO EVERYTHING AT A SLOWER PACE
Fast-faster-fastest is the magical motto of our society but in reality we regularly see that fast isn’t necessarily good. On the contrary, many employees burnout and national figures of sickness absence in the workplace grow more serious every year.
You’re desperate to complete your tasks as quickly as possible in order to save time, but the time saved will then get filled up with even more of the same urgent tasks (this is a nature law: every vacuum you’ll create will get filled again). So in fact you will never get on top of all those tasks. Even worse: you will run out of time even faster. And ever since we work with intelligent, timesaving computer systems, we feel we need even more time and rush through the day more than ever before. No wonder so many of us suffer from work stress.
It’s important to realise that you’ll never going to win this race against the clock. But there is something you can do though: change your perception of time. You can do this most effectively by slowing down. Simply do everything you have to do today in a slower pace. This gives you space to take a refreshingly deep breath now and then, and look around you with awareness, and actually notice — and maybe even appreciate — how well you're performing your tasks.
By slowing down you add quality to everything you do, simply because you made the conscious decision to allow your tasks, chores and projects time. Also, with this approach you can get into the flow of what you’re doing, losing any sense of time and space and just enjoying your task, silently and fully focussed on the process, rather than striving to achieve superficial and unfulfilling results.
Want to know more about the power of mindfulness? Get my free e-book now!
In order to help you create a more mindful and fulfilling life I invite you to download my free e-book. It offers 50 pages of sound information which gives you insights into the do’s and don’t’s of the mindfulness principles and how you can make these work within your life and daily routines.
So sign up (no strings attached) and get my free e-book in your inbox right away.
Make sure you check the final page where you’ll find my mystery goodie which will make it even easier to choose my no-nonsense approach of mindfulness.