“I don’t have enough time.”

How many times have you said that to yourself or as a reply to somebody when they suggest you do something with them?  I am guilty of saying this quite regularly.  Sometimes I legitimately do not seem to have enough time in my day.  The fact is that I made choices and my life and my schedule is the way it is because I made it so.  I am sure you are similar to me in the sense that you made some conscious choice of direction in your life, only to figure out later that you have to make some sacrifices.  If we accept for a moment that time is limited and so is your energy, when we add something new to our lives, something has to give – or does it?  

When I ask most of my patients to consider adding meditation to their day, I often hear, “I have thought about that but I don’t have time – especially just for sitting around.”  Yes, meditation has the dual challenge for people in that they are adding one more thing and it appears to be just sitting around doing nothing.  I understand how meditation may seem like it is quite passive but as it turns out, this is not only a challenge to remain focused on present moment but it likely has far greater health benefits than exercise does.  Of course physical exercise is important but extreme exercise is a massive free radical generating activity.  With benefits to physical and mental health it is no wonder why healthcare providers like myself prescribe it now as often, if not more, than physical exercise.  

Getting patients to understand the health benefits and see that it is more than just “sitting around” is relatively easy. Helping people fit this into their busy lives is sometimes the more difficult part.  To assist with this time crunch, I have people think about meditation or mindfulness the same way we now think about people who sit too long at work.  Many people now understand that the “sitting disease” is causing us more harm than anything.  You are now seeing more people consciously standing for periods at work, using standing desks, or consciously doing some activity for a few minutes each hour.  It turns out that there is a positive cumulative effect from regular, short bouts of exercise.  The same is true for mindfulness!  You don’t need to set aside thirty or sixty minutes a day to be effective.  Short periods of mindfulness lasting no more than one minute done several times a day can be very effective.

The next time you don’t have enough time for mindfulness, try standing up at work and focusing on your breathing for one minute.  Try that again in an hour.  See if you can do it several times a day.  You have a minute don’t you?