“I used to enjoy meditating, but I just don’t have time anymore….”
“I pray for a couple of minutes before bed…if I don’t fall asleep.”
“I feel like my mind is constantly spinning. I don’t know where I’m going or what to focus on next.”
“Sometimes I just snap at people. I don’t want to act like that, but I’m not sure how to change…”
Do any of these phrases resonate with you?
If so, read on.
Coaching individuals on how to find time for self care, including prayer and meditation, is an essential part of this process.
Here are some of my top tips on how to make this life-giving and peace-filling activity a repeat event on your schedule:
Recognize Its Importance
Prayer and meditation play as important a role in your overall health and well being as sleeping, eating and exercising. The scientifically proven benefits include reduced blood pressure and increased attention. I’ve also seen that prayer and meditation gives you the necessary mental perspective and emotional stability you need to have peace. By pausing for even a few moments to breathe deeply, you can transcend from behaving out of instinctual stress reactions to acting out of your true beliefs and values. For instance, next time you receive an e-mail that triggers a panic response try this method:
- Stand up and walk away from the device that delivered the e-mail to you.
- Take a couple of breaths from your stomach, and if possible, do a few light stretches.
- Ask yourself: Is this really important? Really urgent? Really essential? Do I need to respond to this now, or can I schedule a time later today or tomorrow to respond?
- Based on your answers to those questions, choose the next actions that are within your control.
- Then refocus on your top priority of the moment.
As one of my time coaching clients said, “Meditation is like a mental ‘reboot.’”
Choose Your Favorite Approach
Two keys to successfully integrating new habits into your routine are making them pleasurable and practical. For prayer and meditation, this means you should choose a form that you really enjoy. This could include:
- Individual breathing exercises
- Group meditation sessions or prayer services
- A walk, run, surf or other physical activity
- Yoga, Pilates, dance or other stretching exercise
- Reading prayer or meditation books
- Participating in the ActivPrayer.org community
- Listening to guided meditations (You can sample and download a bunch of them from Amazon.com for less than $1)
- Anything else where you are able to focus and relax your mind
Also, consider what you can (and will) actually do. You may prefer to go to a group mediation session every morning. But if you won’t actually go seven days a week, it’s best to commit to consistently going to a group activity once a week and then find an activity you can do at work or at home the other six days a week.
Plan in Prayer and Meditation First
Serene Silence is like a beautiful lover—she knows her value and will only be enjoyed when she is wholeheartedly pursued. You need to seek peace and part of that involves consciously choosing to make it a priority each day. This could include:
- Going right from your bed to a quiet spot where you can read and pray in the morning.
- Setting aside your lunch hour to walk or listen to calming music or do yoga.
- Using your commute at the end of the day to think through or to write out in a journal what happened over the last 24 hours—and particularly to let go of any trapped negative emotions.
- Putting an alarm on your phone that reminds you to shut off electronics and wind down for bed so that you can ease into sleep and have time to pray and meditate before your doze off.
A Few Bonus Tips
Start small: It’s better to meditate for five minutes a day, every day, than to tell yourself you must spend two hours in prayer and then to do nothing.
Notice warning signs: When you feel tension mounting in your mind, body, soul or spirit, pause for a moment and give yourself space. By not taking a moment to clear your mind and get perspective, you risk slowing down your progress or making rash decisions that can cost you everything.
May you make time to be still… Amen.
Elizabeth Grace Saunders is a time coach & trainer who empowers individuals who are overwhelmed and frustrated to feel peaceful, confident and accomplished and create lives of meaning and purpose.
Elizabeth has appeared in Inc magazine, The Chicago Tribune, and on NBC, and was selected as one of the Top 25 Amazing Women of 2010 by Stiletto Woman—and of course, prayer and meditation are an essential part of her morning routine.