Making time to actually practice the internal work of yoga, on the surface for many seems daunting. It should. First, you need to find a quiet space to practice – same time each day and definitely the same location. Of course you will need a proper cushion to sit on and maybe even a blanket to cover your body that matches the decor in your room. It should be light enough for the summer months and warm enough for the winter. I forgot, if you have children, you will need to wake up at 4am to make a meditation practice work – and having a special alarm clock with lovely chimes is a priority. If you plan on including pranayama, chanting or affirmations, you will need the right app for your phone to keep time – this way you are not distracted looking at the clock to make sure you’ve met your goal. All of this is before you even take a breath to quiet your thoughts or sit still long enough to notice your inner world. And please forget the whole idea if you don’t have 30 minutes to dedicate to your new meditation practice… every. single. day. EXHAUSTING!
As you can tell, by how ridiculous the above sounds, it’s simply not true. There is no need for the above list… I’m someone who likes toys. It’s fun to have the special clocks, pretty cushions and the like – but it’s not necessary in the least. If you have 5 free minutes, you have time to begin a meditation practice. Everyone has 5 minutes. Period. I say to my students, “If you don’t have 5 minutes, what about 2?”
Take 5 minutes to sit anywhere, anytime, anyplace. Sitting in the pickup line at your kids school (this is my go to time and location), after waking up, sit on the floor in your room or even your bathroom if you are feeling self conscious with your partner nearby. If you are on your break at the office, sit in an empty conference room. There are unlimited examples of the Wheres & Whens. What about in the parking lot before or after your dentist appointment – Or right after you brush your teeth at night, just before bed. When my mind says I don’t have the time today and I can’t possibly fit it in… there is ALWAYS time and there is ALWAYS a place.
You don’t need a special technique to begin meditating… in the next paragraph, I’ll share some simple techniques, but even those aren’t required. All you have to do is sit down and take a pause in your day. Allow your body to sit still and draw your attention inside. You might find that your thoughts are loud. Ok, they are loud. Good. You have just begun a mindful meditation practice by simply stopping and paying attention to what your mind is saying. That’s enough. It’s a beginning that you can do daily for months before you dabble in a specific technique. It’s 5 minutes, or 2 depending on how much you fight me on your time constraints! Nothing magical has to happen. You will not reach enlightenment, but you will have created a moment for yourself to pay attention. That’s enough.
Once you are in a rhythm of taking 5 minutes a day for yourself, you might consider focusing your attention with 1 of the below:
Try noticing your breath – focus on both your inhalations and exhalations. Feel the sensation of how the breath glides through your nostrils.
If you are drawn toward a Mantra, you can say IN on the inhalations and OUT on the exhalations (I personally say EX on the exhalations because I like matching words).
Another technique is to count your breath: IN 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 – OUT 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
You don’t need anything more right now. You don’t need the perfect mala beads, or the yummy smelling essential oil that is purported to take you to a spiritual place, or even the fabulous artwork to inspire you to your heart center.
All you need to do is begin.
Lainie Devina is a highly-regarding yoga teacher, Teacher Training and Mentor in the YogaWorks Professional Program. Lainie came from a world of dance and was influenced to look outside of herself for approval and acceptance. After a career-ending back injury, she was lost. She began practicing yoga in her early 20’s and as each year passes, she finds deeper layers of wisdom and strength within herself. Visit Lainie’s website, like her on Facebook, or follow her on Instagram or Twitter @lainiedevina.