The most common reason people say they don’t meditate is that they can’t find the time.
Imagine you actually have found the time and you’re feeling pretty good about your meditation practice. You are committed. Some how you found a way to set aside 10, 20, 40 minutes a day a few times a week to meditate. You didn’t think you could do it, but you did, and you are enjoying the benefits of your practice.
And then life throws you a curve ball. You thought your life was busy before, but now it is outrageous.
Welcome to my life.
I am a full-time mom. I teach yoga part-time. I am involved in several volunteer projects, and I have a home and yard to maintain. I practice yoga and meditate daily. My plate is full, but somehow I get it all done – usually.
Then comes the holiday season. My daughter is a ballet dancer, so there is a lot of shuffling to and fro for Nutcracker rehearsals. Add in the holiday decorating, present preparation, cooking projects, and shopping. Add in a workshop or two, and my plate begins to get very full. Breath, practice, meditate, I remind myself.
But the world continues to conspire against me. Two weeks ago, I got an early morning call from my 92-year-old father that he has had a stroke and is in the E.R. As he lives in Berkeley and I live in Seattle, I found myself spending a lot of time on the phone trying to figure out care options for him. Breathe, practice, meditate, I remind myself. Turns out he didn’t have a stroke and is released from the hospital after two days. Still weak and unsteady, but no longer in need of hospital care. Unfortunately, he falls three days later and needs to go back to the E.R. Clearly I can’t manage the situation from afar, and thus an unplanned trip to the Bay Area is required – immediately. Breath, practice, meditate, I remind myself.
I called Alaska Airlines and bought a last-minute ticket. I scurry around and find folks to cover my classes. I dash out to the store and stock up on frozen meals and fresh fruit for my kids to eat while I am gone. I write out to-do lists for them. I send notes to neighbors asking them to watch out for my kids. Pack a bag and off I go. I spend 4 days in Berkeley taking care of my father; dressing his wounds, helping him find new patterns for life, talking to doctors, nurses, physical and occupational therapists, buying medical supplies, setting up care, oh, and did I mention trying to be a good mom to my kids back at home….
Now I am back, playing catch up. But through it all, my meditation and yoga has saved me. Yes, it was modified. I practiced 10 minutes here, 20 minutes there, wherever I could fit it in. And it did make such a difference. Meditation on the plane made the flight go more quickly. I couldn’t get up and meditate and do yoga in the morning before I needing to care for my father, but I could fit it in when he rested, before I spoke with the doctors, after I made meals or just before bed. Whenever and wherever, and always it helped me to be clearer, calmer, more energetic, compassionate and patient.
The last one on that list is the most important. I am not a saint. I get tired and overwhelmed and frustrated. All of us do. We are all just trying to do the best we can with what we are given.
So if you are kicking yourself because you have let your practice slip, stop kicking. Instead take 5 minutes sometime today, just to stop and breathe. Nothing big, just that – breathe and be. Maybe you will find another 5 minutes later on when you can stretch or do an asana. The important thing is to give yourself that time and to notice how you feel afterwards. That is meditation. That is yoga. That is healing.
Before I close, I want to say a few thanks:
- To my yogi friends/teachers who covered my classes at the last-minute – you guys are the best.
- To all my students for being the best and most understanding students ever.
- To my friends here and in the Bay Area who kept checking-up on me and supporting me.
- To the guy on the airplane who gave me a ride home at 11:00 at night.
- To the staff at Alta Bates Hospital for taking such good care of my Dad.
- To the doctors and nurses and therapists who have been so helpful and informative.
- And to my wonderful husband and kids for being so loving and understanding.
Shalom & Namaste
P.S: How do you like the falling snow?