The current mindfulness meditation trend is on the upswing, ever-present in the wellness industry. While meditation comes in different forms, its typical representation looks like someone sitting alone in a dark room, legs twisted in a pretzel, eyes closed, palms together pressed to their heart. I, however, can’t always find that perfect space to practice mindfulness and meditate. In fact, most of the time, my meditation practice looks nothing like that. I am learning that I can practice mindfulness anywhere.
One of the goals of mindfulness is to draw yourself to the present moment. This helps you drop stress and develop a healthier relationship with your negative thoughts and emotions. Many people claim that it helps them feel calm in the throes of anxiety and hope in the caves of depression.
Many Ways to Meditate
We tend to perfectionize our self-care. We want immaculate rainbow bubble baths, beautiful hikes that aren’t too challenging, and a peaceful place for an undisturbed meditation session. We like to build boxes around our meditation practices, claiming that a certain time or space is the only environment where we can successfully slow down. And while it’s good to prioritize time to nourish your soul, it doesn’t have to look just one way.
Visualize, just for a second, a stressful scenario from your daily life. It probably seems like the last place in the world you’d choose to meditate. The very idea of practicing mindfulness feels silly, doesn’t it? You feel anxiety mounting in that space behind your forehead, between your eyes. Your body stiffens. You notice the tension and then think to yourself, Ah, I can’t wait for my [insert mindfulness meditation practice here] tonight. I’ll finally be able to calm down.
But what if you meditated in real-time, right then and there? What would happen? How good would it feel to watch the stress melt away? Why wait for later? Waiting to meditate until it’s “time to meditate” contradicts the very purpose of mindfulness. When we do that, you are pushing your peace into the future, rather than beckoning it to the present moment.
You Are Everything You Need
This, of course, is easier said than done. It’s hard enough to make time for mindfulness as it is. Practicing it frame-by-frame alongside your stressful moments might feel impossible. A remedy to this is a shift in your mindset. Why are you meditating in the first place? Most would say, to put it simply, to feel better. Psychologist Nirbhay Singh says, “Every person has within them the seed of their own happiness. Meditation helps them connect to it.”
The key to your calm is within you. Sometimes, it’s floating near the surface and easy to find. Other times, you may have to do some digging. Either way, mindfulness isn’t about where you are–it’s about what you’re doing. It’s about you. So you can do it anywhere. Next time you’re caught in traffic, try softening and slowing down. When a deadline is hurdling towards you, take a few deep breaths, and observe how you feel. You don’t have to wait until you’re “ready” for your mindfulness meditation. Wherever you are, you can find peace inside. Instead of pouring your hope into some outside source–a time, a place, a form–invest in yourself.
Mindfulness as a Spiritual Practice
Practicing mindfulness anywhere carries spiritual results, as well. You don’t need to wait for the opportune moment to be spiritual. Holding off prayer until you’re alone is not necessary. Putting off pondering important questions also puts off your opportunity to receive. Just as mindfulness meditation can be done anywhere, you can connect to the divine anywhere. And a major way to accomplish that is through mindfulness.
It’s hard to learn about spiritual things when you’re distracted. Mindfulness removes those distractions and opens the channel between you and the divine. It’s often during periods of meditation that I shape out my own core values and beliefs. When I’m surrounded by chaos, mindfulness clears out the unnecessary noise and helps me discover my uninhibited self. Free from distraction, I recognize my emotions for what they are. I identify what brings me joy and what calms me down. I discover what defines me as a human being.
I’ve also learned that while my stress levels vary from day to day, there is one thing that stays the same: my concept of God. I don’t only feel closer to a higher power when I meditate; I learn more about them. I take comfort in my knowledge that they are unchanging, present, and kind. In my most stressful moments, mindfulness reconnects me to what I know. Then what I know, in turn, reassures and soothes me.
Your understanding of the divine will probably differ from mine because we are all unique. But tuning in to God in your mindful moments will extend your spiritual scope. In the same vein, mindfulness meditation will carry you to the calm that is necessary to connect to this higher power.
You can meditate anywhere. You can be spiritual anywhere. All you need is you!