How to Incorporate Meditation Into Your Busy Lifestyle
By Aziza Kibibi
Through a yoga technique called g-tummo, Buddhists who have committed themselves to a life of service and simplicity can evaporate the moisture of wet cloaks laid on their bodies using deep meditation. With our immediate access to laundromats and laundry rooms and the ability to stay warm in the winter thanks to a thermostat dial, many of us may only find this skill valuable if we lived in the frigid atmosphere of the Himalayan Mountains. And though we may never know all the capabilities of the roughly 86 billion neurons that make up our brains, disciplining some of those neurons through meditation can make a busy, stressful life more manageable.
Meditation, in its essence, is an exercise or practice that develops your ability to control your mind. There are forms of meditation, such as g-tummo, that train focus and awareness with enough precision to change body functions and behaviors. And there are others that can put you in a deep trance-like state where you can access memories long buried in your subconscious.
Some types of meditation require you to sit in one position to activate energy points in the body. And other types help you develop mindfulness through movement and grounding poses such as Tai Chi and Yoga.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, meditation improves psychological balance and enhances overall health and well-being. And the National Institute of Mental Health says that unmanaged stress can lead to sleep issues, digestive problems, a weakened immune system and damage to your reproductive systems. With 31% of people in America suffering from an anxiety disorder, having a toolkit of stress management techniques is not only essential but imperative. I speak from experience. As a single mom who runs a nonprofit organization, works a 9 to 5 and maintains a consistent content posting schedule on social media, stress levels can get higher than the raised temperature of, well… a monk practicing g-tummo. And with the added need to cope with childhood trauma and the emotional strain of the pandemic, I am more aware of the importance of a good self-care routine.
But let’s face it, while self-care should be automatic, sometimes making it a requirement feels like a job in itself. And an activity meant to relieve stress transforms into something stressful.
I was introduced to meditation by my father when I was a child. I can recall my siblings and I sitting crossed-legged, mirroring the posture of a statue of Gautama Buddha, in a circle guided by my father’s voice to visualize pulling energy from the sun, moon and stars. As a child, using the power of creative visualization through meditation came second nature. With my already active imagination, I thought it was cool that I was encouraged to use it in what I considered a “grown-up way.”
Fast forward 20 years, I’ve developed the ability to achieve deep meditation in a crowded subway. And come to think of it, I have kept myself warm with meditation while stranded in my vehicle in 20-degree weather. While I don’t recommend trying to get your brain into theta state on your subway commute, and you may not have plans to travel to the Himalayas in a wet cloak, adding meditation to your wellness toolkit will help with everything else.
So how do you incorporate meditation into your lifestyle without it feeling like yet another chore to check off your list? The answer: go with the basics and utilize the tools that are available to you.
Practice Your Breathing
Every type of meditative practice, goal and technique starts with conscious control of your breathing. Filling your lungs with air as much as you can through the nose and releasing that collected air at a controlled pace through pursed lips can stop panic attacks and manage anxiety. Taking a few minutes a day to focus on your breathing with intention helps increase lung capacity, steadies your heart rate and instructs your brain to relax.
Commit Time Daily
If your schedule barely has room for a sit-down dinner, dedicating an hour chanting “Ohm” hardly seems doable. But committing to five or ten minutes of deep breathing after you wake up in the morning before you grab your phone to check your email can make a big difference to how you approach the rest of your day.
Use Apps and Videos
If you hit the snooze button one too many times, some smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, have preinstalled apps that encourage and remind you to take mindfulness breaks throughout the day by guiding deep rhythmic breathing for a minute or more. Apps like Calm, Synctuition and Headspace can help get you focused and refreshed in the middle of the day and usher you into some of the best sleep of your life.
There is also an impressive catalog of videos on YouTube that are meditations guided by a kind voice and soothing music. One of my favorites is the Heal Your Body Mediation narrated by Louise Hay which recommends its use while falling asleep. Another is A Soothing Meditation Video on my channel “I Am Aziza Kibibi.” At two minutes and twenty-three seconds, it is the perfect brief escape when you need to bring down stress levels in a hurry. These tools are convenient and great for beginners and experts alike.
There will always be deadlines to meet, tasks to complete and crises to manage. Having an effective self-care routine is just as crucial to your efficiency as your computer or smartphone. Because the healthiest you is the most important tool of all.