How to Meditate When You Have No Time

Who else wants to know how to use micro-mindfulness to build your skill at meditating?

These days, just about everyone knows about meditation and its benefits. And interestingly, despite knowing all the benefits, a lot of people still find that they cannot do it.

We try some supposedly beginner-level exercises, and most of us find that we quickly become bored and that our thoughts are anywhere but where we’d like them to be.

If you’d like to know how to overcome this, read on!

Because there’s an interesting thing about meditation. You don’t have to look far to find stories of people who retreat to monasteries for months, years, or even decades to become absolute masters of meditation. And this can lead us to believe that it has to take a long time to get good at it.

The truth is far different. Yes, people who meditate all the time like that will discover all sorts of things that the rest of us won’t. But at the same time, we can get a lot of the way there with relatively little effort. As with everything else in life, the Pareto Principle applies to meditation.

If you’re unfamiliar with it, the Pareto Principle states that for any activity, we will get 80% of the gain from 20% of the effort. This has been demonstrated to be true across virtually every field of human endeavour, and there are sound mathematical reasons to believe that it is universally true. At least for systems which follow a normal distribution. And if you think back to high school statistics class, that’s most of them.

So how do we apply this to meditation?

As it turns out, the key is in realizing what parts of meditation will give us the most gain. And when we’re starting out, the single thing that will give us the most gain the most quickly is being able to quickly and easily go into a meditative state.

With meditation, we get the most benefit the most quickly when we practice the skill of moving into a meditative state.

If you think about it for a moment, this makes total sense. Because the truth is that if we find it difficult to go into a meditative state, or if we cannot get there quickly, we’re probably not going to do it very much.

Now, it’s also true that if we want to learn how to go into a meditative state, we’re going to have to do some work. This is the case with every other thing that we ever learn, so it makes sense that it is also true for meditation.

What’s interesting is that in this case, it doesn’t have to be a huge amount of work. And in many ways, it’s more effective when we have lots and lots and lots of tiny instances of it.

So how exactly do we do that?

How do we set aside enough time to learn to meditate effectively when we’re all leading busy lives with seemingly every moment already accounted for?

It turns out that the answer is remarkably simple.

You see, we don’t have to go all the way into a deep meditative state in order to practice. All we need to do is begin to make that transition. As we do this, we will gradually become better at it over time, which leads to us moving a little further into meditation each time. And the best thing is that it can take literally seconds to do.

We don’t need any special tools either. Anything that is around us will do. When I was growing up, I would simply manipulate things in my immediate environment and notice how they behaved. For example, I would pick up a glass and rotate it around an axis on a table. It sounds outrageously simple, and that’s because it is.

I usually refer to this as micro-mindfulness.

Micro-mindfulness is the act of having tiny amounts of mindful meditation. A few seconds at a time is all that is required.

If you want to become skilled at meditating using micro-mindfulness, the first step is learning how to move into a meditative state, and the quickest way I know of to do that, which can be built into every part of your life, is paying attention to the things around you and allowing yourself to become fascinated with how they behave. For a few seconds at a time.

This is literally all that you need. There is a sticking point though. It’s one thing to decide that you’re going to. It’s quite another to actually do it. When I teach this to people, I usually also do a little hypnosis to build it into their lives.

Since this is an article rather than a live hypnosis session, you’ll have to do this part yourself.

Luckily, it’s easy! All you have to do is spend a few moments running through a typical week of your life inside your mind, notice what you’re doing as that week proceeds, and then for each activity in that week, choose specific micro-mindful things that you can do. Then, inside your mind, see yourself doing each of those things as a part of each activity. Add in as many details as you can and ramp up the curiosity as much as possible.

Practicing the future in your imagination like this is a form of autosuggestion.

If you can set alarms for some of these activities, do so, at least initially, to remind you.

The more you can build the habit of micro-mindfulness into your life, the more quickly you will find it easy to meditate.

As an example, you might decide that when you sit down at your desk, you’re going to pick up a pen, and spend a few seconds rotating it in your fingers and noticing how it moves. See this in your mind’s eye, and pay attention to every detail.

When we look through our lives, it often feels like we’re flat out all the time, and the reality is that we actually have lots and lots and lots of moments where we have a handful of seconds we can exploit. All you have to do is notice where these moments are, and then remember to utilize them when they happen.

The exercise that I outlined above around finding these moments beforehand is especially important. When we take a few moments to run through these in our mind’s eye, we are starting to build a habit. And once micro-mindfulness becomes a habit, it becomes automatic.

That’s really all there is to it. There isn’t any secret at all. It’s just a matter of a tiny bit of planning, and a little bit of practice beforehand to give you the best possible chance of actually doing it.

Next up, check out my article on how to use micro-mindfulness to cause change!

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