Get up, wake up dear traveler, It is not night anymore.
Those who sleep, they lose. One who wakes finds.
I remember childhood days when my grandfather woke us by chanting lines from this ancient bhajan. These very words have an answer and incentive for the common dilemma, How can I find the time to meditate? Some may say the easiest solution for those who need to have more time in their day is to wake up earlier but as you may know, it’s not always that simple.
It takes more than extra time to develop a routine, to follow it consistently and build it into a solid habit. In the 24 hours that everyone has in a day, we seem to choose to do things according to priorities we’ve set in our lives. These priorities generally include looking after our families, homes, professional pursuits, and various mundane tasks. We manage to somehow make time for all that we feel is important to us. Think about it. There is always a drive that makes us place things at the top of our to-do list. So the question is, how IMPORTANT is meditation to me and how do I make meditation a priority in my life?
Meditation is the highest form of activity.-Paramhansa Yogananda
Before we set out to find ways to make time to meditate, let’s look at some of the ways meditation is both important and beneficial. Paramhansa Yogananda said:
Resolve to give more time to God. Meditate regularly every day. Meditation is the highest form of activity. It is the pathway to God.
Some of the widely known and transformational benefits of meditation include:
- Reduced stress in the physical body and mind
- Better circulation and blood detoxification
- Strengthened immune system
- Regulation of the body’s systems
- Positive changes in brain wave frequency for a positive and clear mindset
- Change and shift in one’s consciousness
Making Time to Meditate
Here are a few tips or guidelines I have used over the years. They have helped me overcome many of the challenges that stood in the way.
- GET AN EARLY START — Try to go to sleep at a decent time each night so that you can start your day EARLY. Getting up early will give you extra hours and minutes in your day and provide opportunities to make time for your sadhana (meditation).
- GET THE MEDITATION APP – The Ananda Meditation App is a great tool for both beginning and experienced meditators. It offers a number of strategies, from using a timer to tracking your practice, and it provides numerous and various types of guided meditations.
- SET REASONABLE GOALS – When I aimed for longer meditations I knew they would require more time and, unfortunately, procrastination set in. This sabotaged my efforts. I found by setting smaller targets and to begin with, taking out a little time from my day, I was able to achieve my larger goals. Once my routine was firm and stable I was able to move on to longer, deeper meditations.
- MY SECRET KEY – I have been on the path of Self-realization for about six years. During that time, I have come across several meditators, teachers, and practitioners who have been meditating for more than 30 years. I found that if I had to pick the one, most important thing I learned from them, it would be self-discipline. Self-discipline is like a muscle. The more we exercise it, the more it grows and develops. I realized that self-control is not something we are born with but it can be developed into a positive habit by anyone.
- SEND AN SOS – I call it, Seek Out Support. This one always saves the day. I moved from my apartment recently. My life and routine were completely disrupted. My meditations were also affected. I took shelter in group meditations! My SOS alert was activated and I reached out to my gurubhais and friends to help me get back to my routine — waking up early, doing my sadhana, with Energization Exercises, etc. I affirm from my experience, “It surely works.”
Group meditations is a castle that protects the new spiritual aspirants as well as the veteran meditators. -Paramhansa Yogananda
- PORTABLE ALTAR – A fun idea! Our minds are very adept at coming up with excuses for not having or finding the time or space for meditation. Develop ideas to eliminate those possibilities by paying attention, being aware of possibilities. For instance, I like to have my personal portable altar nearby or with me, so that even when I’m traveling or things are out of place I still have reminders and support to meditate. This may be especially helpful for those who are particular about a specific type of space or designated area for doing meditation. If you have a portable altar available as an anchor, it can be very handy to support your ability to meditate anytime or anywhere!
Meditation is more than a practice…-Swami Kriyananda
- START AGAIN – Lastly, if you stumble, let go of guilt feelings. Just start all over again. Personally, there have been times when I’ve had challenges maintaining a proper routine, but each time what I do is start again. It takes a bit of perseverance and patience, but isn’t it worth another shot?
Meditation is more than a practice conducted at specific times of the day. It is a habit of mind, a way of life. –Swami Kriyananda
When we include our sadhana as a daily practice and attitude, not apart from our regular routine, then the question of how to find time for meditation disappears.
During the time when I was relatively new on the path, I was having a very hard time finding time to meditate. I dibbled and dabbled with different ways to help me. I read books, spoke to meditators, watched videos, and tried a lot of different things. Here are a few stories from friends and acquaintances that include longtime meditators and those who have just begun.
I asked one of my friends (who is a monk) how he finds time to meditate. He said, “When meditation becomes a part of you and your routine, time appears.” This was an interesting notion but it sounded easier said than done. Besides, this was an answer from a long-time meditator!
Another friend told me, “It is very easy! I don’t give myself time to say, ‘Not now’ or, ‘Later.’ The moment I wake up, I sit for meditation. It helps me avoid procrastination.” I was particularly fascinated by her response.
I continued to seek out answers. Another meditator shared with me that she realizes the tremendous impact that meditation has on her and her life, and so she meditates. She especially shared that meditation has become integral to her life, making sure she embraces the habit to meditate daily, even if only for a little bit.
A few weeks ago I was in a conversation with a long time meditator. I wanted to know what had made him regular and consistent with his meditations for nearly 30 years. He told me that he meditated first thing in the morning before the day started so that there were no interruptions. For the evening meditation, he sets a fixed time just as he would for a meeting or an appointment. He suggested that if one is having difficulty with regularity, committing to small segments of 10–15 minutes at a fixed time is a good way to build a routine.
Many of these stories inspired and helped me but at the end of the day, I understood that it came down to the priorities I set in my life. The day I became conscious of my primary goal in life, which is to find God, I found the time to meditate under all circumstances.
I hope you will be able to make your own explorations and be inspired to start or strengthen a DAILY sadhana and practice of meditation.
When you want something, all the universe conspires with you to
help you to achieve it.
Paul Coelho made this now famous quote. Such a concept can put to an end to all of the excuses we might come up with. We simply need to adjust our to-do lists, make meditation a part of our daily routine, and keep the company of like-minded souls.
It is up to each one of us to choose the direction of our lives. I remember some lines from a hymn my dad sang. They have a lot of meaning for me and convey perfectly what I seek to share about meditation:
We have an anchor that keeps the soul
Steadfast and sure while the billows roll.
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the Savior’s love.
I have made Thee polestar of my lifeI have found that making the time for meditation will not only act as a moral compass in the ocean of life, but meditation will also steer one’s boat through storms and austerities. Listen and reflect on a line from Yogananda’s powerful chant, “I have made Thee polestar of my life.”
Remember this line and sail your boat to our home in God. Do you think now that you can make time for your sadhana?
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