Photo of Hannah Cooper by Hani Eskander
I hope everyone enjoyed a beautiful Eid holiday. I went to Dahab for the first time, and I used the time away from my normal routine to deepen my meditation practice. But life flows on, and now that I am back in my daily routine, I no longer have hours to spend staring at a wall each week.
While it would be nice if we had hours each day to devote to a regular meditation routine, the joy of meditation comes when loving kindness expands into our daily lives. Little moments of meditation folded into routines can replace some of the stress of modern life with compassion and joy. These simple mindfulness exercises help me find meditative loving kindness in a busy life.
Grounding meditation for impulsivity
I have come across this meditation in several contexts, most recently on the Headspace app, an app I downloaded for free to my iPhone for meditative inspiration. The purpose is to be grounded in the present moment.
For each of sense, name five sensory impressions from the present moment.
Name five things you can see right now.
Name five things you can hear right now.
Name five things you can smell right now.
Name five things you can feel on your skin or in your body.
Gratitude meditation for impatience
I invented this meditation while suffering through the final eight kilometers of the San Francisco marathon. I find it useful when I am feeling impatient: waiting in line at the supermarket, sitting in unmoving traffic, waiting for a friend who is running late.
For each year of life, think of one person to be grateful to:
For example, when I was one, I am grateful to my mother for giving birth. When I was two, I am grateful to my grandmother for buying me the stuffed animal I still have, etc.
To make the meditation more interesting, you cannot use the same person twice, and each time you play you have to think of someone different.
Meditation for compassion
This is a variation on a meditation from the Dalai Lama in The Book of Joy.
Think of one person you love. Picture his/her face. Think about what he/she wants in life, and what makes he/she happy.
Think of one person whose life touched yours today. Picture his/her face. Think about what he/she wants in life, what makes him/her happy, and what he/she fears.
Think of one person who is annoying you in life. Picture his/her face. Think about what he/she wants in life, and what he/she fears.
Meditation before eating
Thanks to the Buddhist monks in Korea, who gave me this idea while at temple stay.
Before eating take a moment to feel grateful to all the people who helped to bring the food to your plate. How many people can you think of? Picture the farmer and the geneticist who designed the seeds to grow the plant. Feel grateful to the people who picked the produce and who transported it to the markets, etc.
These are all quick and easy ways to meditate in your day to day life. Let us know if you have other tricks up your sleeve and what you do to stay mindful everyday.