A common objection to the idea of spending ten minutes a day sitting and breathing is, “I’m too busy. I just don’t have the time”.
The only answer to that question is “nobody”. But of course, the question is an odd one because it implies that there is only one time, and that this singular time can be possessed.
Isaac Newton built his view of the universe on a single, perfectly linear idea of time. It starts at the beginning and carries straight on towards infinity. Or the end. Whichever comes first.
Clearly, if time is a straight line, it must, in some sense, be possible to travel along it. In 1895 HG Wells built his fictional Time Machine on this concept, and the idea of time travel has enthused millions of people ever since.
Imagine the possibilities! We’d be able to follow Frank Sinatra’s burger recipe, or grab next week’s lottery numbers, or speak firmly and persuasively to Hitler, or start a dinosaur farm…
Sadly for the “what if” fantasist in all of us, ten years later Albert Einstein published his Special Theory of Relativity. To be fair, it took a while for anyone to figure what it meant, but broadly it explains that time travel was now possible, but only within certain virtually impossible parameters. Time, it transpires, isn’t a straight line at all. It bends and twists and speeds up and slows down depending on how quickly you’re travelling or how much gravity is thereabouts. It’s a mess.
But time only responds to what you are doing from the point of view of somebody else. In other words, we each have our own time. And, according to the ever reliable Wikipedia, “the rate of a clock is greatest according to an observer who is at rest with respect to the clock”.
Of course, this runs contrary to our own observations that a watched clock appears to tick more slowly than it does when we’re rushing around trying to get things done.
One way to get yourself the time to sit and breathe is to rush around as much as possible yourself. This would slow down the rate of the clock with respect to you. Otherwise, get your team (or your boss, depending on where you sit in the corporate pecking-order) to do the running around, forcing their clocks to slow down so that you can use the extra time you have for simply sitting without their noticing any fall in your output.
By far the best and most effective method to be sure you have the time to sit and breath is to accept that time is a construct of mathematics and convention. In fact, the only time that exists in any meaningful way is this exact moment. You should use each moment to its fullest potential. And if that means focusing on your breath, then you have all the time you need.image by Oskar Karlin
If you’re new to mindfulness practice, one of the things you’ll have to embrace is the idea of meditation. I choose not to meditate. I prefer to sit.
Meditation is a concept that is weighed down with extraneous meaning. It suggests a search for something – enlightenment, meaning, happiness. It can be daunting. It is also something that we need to find time for, like cookery or bassoon practice. This in itself can lead to failure. Our days are busy enough without finding the time for something new. Who has time to meditate?
All of our days are different. We have to travel. Perhaps we have to attend meetings. Maybe we need to deal with colleagues and customers. We could have children to look after. Some of us spend a large part of the day on our feet. But I can guarantee that we all get to sit down at some time during the day.
When I notice myself sitting down, I take it as a cue to start to clear my mind. It’s surprising how often I find myself sitting, and so I get to meditate more than I would if I had to purposefully set aside the time.
More daunting than finding the time to meditate, we might have to explain to others that we would like to have the time to meditate. We may need to get permission to spend ten or twenty minutes by ourselves; from spouse or partner, colleagues or children. To paraphrase the movie, the first rule of mindfulness club is that no-one talks about mindfulness. This puts us in an intractable situation, a paradox. How do we ask for time to meditate if we also want to avoid talking about meditation?
Sitting is neutral. Sitting won’t upset anybody. I doubt anyone would object if you said, “You go ahead and start watching the movie – I just want to sit for ten minutes”, or “Kids, go and get on with your homework – I just want to sit for a little while”. Or how about, “Hold my calls for ten minutes – I just need to sit.”
On the whole, people will understand your desire for a few moments of silence. In my experience, they will go further and do what they can to protect your sitting from unnecessary interruptions.
So take your cues from your day. When you find yourself sitting, breathe. Listen to your breath and come into the moment.