Have you ever been on a vacation and found yourself inspired with new ideas and fresh solutions to everyday challenges? Sometimes when you get these insights during a vacation, you wonder why these ideas and solutions are just now showing up in your mind. Travel and vacations have proved to be some of the most valuable investments in my life, and not simply because I get to swim in the ocean and eat tasty food. Almost every time I take a vacation I come back with a fresh perspective, a journal full of business ideas, and solutions for making my life feel more in balance. Taking time to relax, slow down and enjoy life makes us feel good and then we want to discover how to feel good more often. Most of the time we aren't inspired to necessarily work harder when we return, but to work smarter. We get brilliant little flashes of ways to be more efficient, to create new products or processes, both in our home lives and at work.
I don't know about you, but unfortunately I am not in a position to take as many vacations as I require to keep that feeling going for a long period of time. Most of us find ourselves counting down the days, weeks, months, and oftentimes years to our next getaway. Well I will fill you in on a little secret. Spending thousands of dollars on a beach vacation is not the only way to access those flashes of inspiration and creativity. In fact, I would argue that it is not sufficient for you to only give yourself a thorough dose of relaxation when you travel to far off locations for holiday. Instead, I am suggesting that you carve out a few minutes each and every day, perhaps a couple of times per day, to access this same state of mind. Waiting for a vacation is not a sufficient self-care practice. It's great, but you need a daily maintenance program as well!
I am referring to taking up a meditation practice! Yes you! Meditation is not some "weird" thing that is just for monks or yogis in India. Meditation is a personal practice that requires zero dollars, minimal time, no former experience and no equipment. What meditation does require is:
1. a setting where you won't be disturbed
2. a little instruction or knowing what to do
3. dedication of your time
Let's get all three settled below.
You do not have to visit a yoga or meditation studio to meditate. That certainly can be helpful and support your progress with your own meditation practice, but it isn't required. You don't need a beautiful room, cafe, beach, sunset or really anything in particular. What you will need is to feel comfortable and in a place that you will are not likely to be interrupted. One of my favorite place to recommend to students is to meditate in their car! Whoa! Wait a second - I am NOT suggesting that you meditate while driving. That would be downright dangerous! How about when you pull up to any place that tends to trigger your stress response (grocery store,work office, the in-laws, etc), put the car in park, get yourself comfortable and hit the pause button on your mind with a little meditation. You can also meditate at home, in your backyard, at your desk at work, in the bathtub or wherever works for you! Certainly you can find one situation in your life allowing you a few minutes to yourself.
So how long should you meditate? If you think you don't have time, then you definitely should make time. Who cannot spare four or five minutes? Yes, there are certainly some meditation programs that require you to meditate for 20 minutes at a time or longer. Perhaps you do have time for that. Great! If you don't, that is okay too. Figure out how much time you actually can commit to. Over time, you may find yourself wanting to extend that time as you begin to experience the benefits.
There are countless techniques for meditating and none of them are wrong; you simply have to figure out what is going work for you. I recommend trying a particular style or method more than once before giving up on it, because it isn't all sunshine and rainbows with meditation, but more on that in a future post. You can check out some of our meditation offerings on this site! In fact, here is an audio file with a very brief and simple four minute guided audio meditation.
Let's face it, sometimes our head is so in the thick of thinking through our current situation, that the only way to come up with a new way of doing things requires taking a step back. Fresh ideas require perspective and space. You can give yourself that with a beach vacation certainly, however on most days simply setting aside some time to clear your mind with meditation may be a more accessible option. I hope that I've inspired you to consider getting started! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions.