Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Time Management Tuesday: Finding Time For Meditation

On Sunday, I stumbled upon an article called So You Think You Can't Meditate... in the March issue of Yoga Journal. The first paragraph dealt with time issues, but in an odd way. "Sure, meditation could be just what you need right now. But who has time? Whether you do or not, you must find it..." It concludes with "So no more excuses for why you can't get started, or, if you already come to your meditation cushion regularly, why you can't seem to take it to the next level."

Find time, but nothing about how to do it. And the "next level" comment? Are we talking a little competitive meditation?

I began looking into and writing about meditation as an element of time management from the very beginning of my Time Management Tuesday project. I've been reading over and over that meditation can have an impact on concentration, and concentration is a big factor on staying on task with writing. The better you can stay on task, the more you can get done with the time you have, and you can see where I'm going with this.

Meditating, however, is not easy for a lot of us. And while it has the potential to help us manage time, it, itself, takes time.

Ways Writers Can Find Time For Meditation


If you walk. In Chi Walking Danny Dreyer and Katherine Dreyer describe a "focusing walk." It involves picking an object ahead of you that you can keep your attention on while walking. When you've walked far enough that you can no longer use your spot as a focus, choose another. While your attention is focused on your object, you can "observe" your breath or concentrate on a word or sound. If you walk, anyway, this may be a way to work in some meditation, too.

Note that this is not true "walking meditation." Both the meditation workshop I took this past year and the Dreyers describe walking meditation being done in a specific area, walking in a circle, for instance. No distractions. If you struggle with the sitting still aspect of meditation, this might help.

If you do qi gong. Yes, this is a pretty big if. I take a tai chi class that includes a bit of qi gong. I can't actually tell you qi gong's relation to tai chi. I've seen them described as complimentary practices or arts. I've wondered if tai chi is a form of qi gong. Oh, for the simple days when I was doing taekwondo.

Anyway, the So You Think You Can't Meditate article describes qi gong as a Taoist method of meditation. Again, if you need movement, trying qi gong may help.
If you spend time waiting. I've read about being able to "drop into" meditation at odd times you can grab here and there. In fact, the May issue of Yoga Journal has an article, Does Ahimsa Mean I Can't Eat Meat? by Kate Holcombe (terrific piece, by the way), that describes a meditation process that begins with "Sit quietly in your home, in your parked car, or even on the bus or in the waiting room of the doctor's office..."

Can Writers "Use" Meditation?

People who are really knowledgeable about meditation might question the wisdom of trying to meditate while doing other things. In Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind: Informal Talks on Zen Meditation And Practice (which I haven't finished reading, to be truthful) Shurya Suzuki talks about dualism. "For  Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic." He's referring at that point to keeping a mind open and ready for anything, not burdened by all it knows, leading to one of my favorite zenny sayings "In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few." And he also says later in a section called "No Dualism," "When you do something, just do it should be your purpose." Is trying to meditate while doing something else dualism?

But, then, maybe people who are really knowledgeable about meditation might question the wisdom of trying to use meditation to mprove concentration and memory and relieve stress, again because of the dualism thing. In his "No Dualism" section, Suzuki also says, "We say our practice should be without gaining ideas, without any expectations, even of enlightenment." I most certainly use mine (such as it is) with the expectation of gaining something. He also describes someone trying to achieve emptiness through form (their Zen practice). "...you are liable to be involved in dualistic ideas: here is you, form, and here is emptiness, which you are trying to realize through your form." We could rephrase that for our situation: here is meditation, and here is concentration, which we are trying to realize through meditation. Two different states, duality.

Well, I have never been one to worry about whether or not I'm adhering to every rule and guideline. I'm definitely a rewarding-myself-for-approximating-correct-behavior sort of person. If it's okay for me to be practicing meditation in order to achieve the end of improving concentration and therefore make better use of my writing time, I'm also going to practice it while walking up the street.

But, of course, I could change my mind about that. 


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