#3: Top 10 Tips
Wondering how to fit meditation and mindfulness into your day?
Well luckily .. this is the third tip I can share .. as part of my Top 10 Tips to help you experience some of the many gifts and benefits of a regular meditation and mindfulness practice.
#Standing Meditation: aka waiting for my coffee
We apparently spend around 20 minutes a day just waiting .. for our coffee, the printer, someone to return our call. I use any of these moments to get out of my head and into my body .. because our body is grounding and always eager for our attention.
As I stand, I notice ‘standing’ and as I breathe, I notice ‘breathing’. I also observe, where am I holding stress? can I breathe into that space and let it go, soften, relax my grip? Rather than allowing physical symptoms of stress to take up residence and harden like cement .. I allow that tightness to float out of my body with each exhalation .. let it go and do a little self-care recharge.
Did you know? the average person throughout their lifetime spends five years waiting in lines and queues where roughly six months of that is waiting at traffic lights.
A 2012 study by the TimexGroup.com found that, on average, those surveyed spent 7 minutes waiting in line for a coffee, 21 minutes waiting for their significant other to get ready to go out, and 20 minutes waiting for the bus/train on a typical day.
And what, you may ask, about our current obsession with technology?
.. well, today I read that US adults will spend an average of 3 hours, 35 minutes per day on mobile devices (in 2018), an annual increase of more than 11 minutes. And the UK Telegraph recently reported that “the average person in the UK spends more than a day a week online, according to a landmark report on the impact of the “decade of the smartphone”.
Besides losing valuable time when waiting, the experience of actually standing in a line waiting is also reported as one of the most universally hated things people have to do. Did you know there are actually people who study the psychology of waiting in line?
Why we don’t like waiting
*We lose time, which we know is a very precious resource .. we all feel that we are time poor
*Waiting puts us in direct contact with the unknown .. which is uncomfortable, bordering on fearful
*The injustice! How did they get served first, why do I have to waste my lunch hour, surely it can’t be that hard to make a coffee? sound familiar?
*It is a disruption to the rhythm of our day .. this can bring up control issues and a realization that there is nothing to distract or entertain ourselves (we just have ourselves and time for nothing-ness)
.. all of which breeds anxiety, annoyance, and discomfort.
But we can make waiting a valuable experience .. an opportunity to develop a mindfulness practice that cultivates patience, calm and bodyfulness.
My Waiting For a Coffee Practice
So, I have escaped the office. It feels like a moments reprieve and an opportunity to step out into the fresh air and sunlight. And straight away, I can see there is a line at my favorite cafe. Hmmm. I am going to have to wait .. but, maybe this is an opportunity to be mindful of how I am feeling, rather than getting frustrated or irritated by the inconvenience of waiting:
what is going through my mind?
what sensations can I observe in my body?
what impulses or emotional reactions are bubbling beneath the surface?
Yes, you can practice mindfulness when waiting by being mindful of:
*how you feel as you leave the office or your current task .. untethered, free, excited, hungry, anxious?
*the physical sensation of traveling down in the lift can be a little trippy (try closing your eyes and mindfully riding downward)
*stepping out into the day, the sunshine and breeze on your face, tuning into the different sounds and energy around you
*your reaction to the line of people waiting ahead of you
*your posture as you stand; directing your attention to your feet planted on the ground, being curious to any areas of tightness or holding in your body; can you soften and relax a little further?
*where do you notice your breath most deeply in this moment?
*what is your mind wanting to do, rather than waiting .. what distractions are you scanning for? your phone, daydreaming, an emotion, a friendly face nearby?
*when it is your time to order your coffee .. can you be a little more mindful of how you enter this personal interaction, can you listen and communicate with mindfulness, soften your facial expression, attend to the tone of voice .. smile?
*and when you receive your coffee .. be mindful of the aroma, the warmth of the cup in your hand, the weight and texture of the container, the delight of anticipation
Benefits of a Standing (Waiting) Mindfulness Practice
Recognise that this is an excellent opportunity to check in with yourself; to observe how you are currently feeling, how your body and breath are traveling, and how you might be able to feel a little lighter, relaxed, calm, focused, happy, engaged etc.
Listen to your body; so you can hear what might need to be addressed. Sore and tight shoulders? you could probably do with some shoulder shrugs or stretches. Got a sore lower back? might benefit from a change in posture or seating when back at your desk, or that eye strain might indicate it is time for an eye checkup. Perhaps you notice that in fact you are seriously hungry!
Reconnecting back into our body is also grounding, and mindfully connecting to the weight of our body standing is being an excellent counterbalance to a flighty and distracted mind.
Paying attention to the body also allows us to reconnect with our emotional and energetic body. Where is your mind? is there something that you need to truly think about, action, release, focus on?
By relaxing our body we also relax our mind (and vice versa).
Observing the body simply standing still, brings us nicely into the present moment.
What is bodyfulness? I wrote a little more about this lovely word recently – HERE is Bodyfulness