Meditation is the fourth step in the OMS Program and it is recommended that you try and aim for 30 minutes daily to help lower stress levels which can be linked to MS relapses and worsening MS symptoms along with other health problems.
Fitting 30 minutes of meditation into your day can be challenging. There can always seem like there’s something else to be doing. You need to get the kids to school, you need to walk the dog or you’re needed at work early. The challenges thrown up with MS symptoms can make even simple tasks difficult. Whatever it is that seems to be getting in the way of achieving your daily 30 minutes, try and focus on why you are meditating and why it is important. To understand the importance of meditation, watch this video here. 30 minutes is just 2% of your day.
Here is a list of ideas to help you maintain daily meditation practice, no matter how long your to-do list is:
Forget traditional meditation practice
The concept of sitting on the ground and closing your eyes while meditating does not need to be followed in order to ‘successfully’ meditate. Make yourself comfortable while you meditate. This might mean sitting on a seat, lying down, walking, keeping your eyes open or moving your hands. Whatever it may be, embrace it as your way of meditating. Alison Potts, an OMSer and meditation coach, talks about this a lot in her video series she recently recorded. Take a watch here.
Spread your meditation practice over small periods
There is absolutely nothing wrong with breaking up the recommendation of 30 minutes into smaller more manageable sections. Perhaps you feel like you could spare 15 minutes at the beginning of the day and 15 minutes at lunch or before bed? Whatever works best for you and your lifestyle is what you should be aiming for.
Immediately before bed
This is a great choice if you struggle with your sleep. It will help prepare your mind and body for rest and allows you to mentally separate from your day. Practicing meditation before going to sleep is also a great time saver! Getting into bed and then listening to a guided meditation or practicing self guided meditation doesn't feel like it's taking up too much of your day. Swapping out 30 minutes of scrolling on your phone before bed with some mediation can offer a lot of benefits.
Encourage your kids to join you
Demonstrating healthy behaviours including meditation to your children can only have a positive effect. Encouraging your children or other family members to join you for daily meditation not only encourages you but also supports step 6 of the OMS Program, prevention in family members. If a reason you struggle to fit meditation into your life is due to childcare, try meditating together. It may not be as peaceful as when you are on your own, but it can be a positive step towards helping them understand your lifestyle changes and building healthy habits for life. Try finding kid-friendly meditations to make the experience is enjoyable for everyone.
Combine with exercise
Tick two OMS recommendations off at the same time! If you are limited for time this is a great way to use your time efficiently. Whatever your chosen form of exercise is, yoga, running, swimming, walking or anything else, exercising mindfully can work well. Unless listening to a guided meditation, it can be useful to unplug from music or podcasts while exercising. Be fully present with where you are, on the pavement, in the woods, or on a treadmill. It can be helpful to tap into body sensations while exercising. Are there parts of your body that are working extra hard? Does your body feel different today compared to yesterday?
Meditate while you travel
Many apps have meditation specific for traveling, which can be a great chance to fit in some meditation practice. Try listening to some guided meditation practices while using public transport on a work commute or any journey. This way of meditating also works well when out walking.
We would not recommend meditating while driving.
Set phone reminders
Again, some apps will have a reminder feature, but if you are not using an app try setting reminders on your phone to alert you. If you are someone who enjoys using their phone calendar, try blocking time in to encourage you to meditate and not double book yourself!
Be accountable to a meditation plan
We have our very own meditation guide which offers you a new guided meditation to listen to each day. All the meditations are from fellow OMSers. Following a plan takes away the worries or stresses of finding a guided meditation to listen to and allows for you to purely focus on the meditation itself. To download the guide, click here. There are other apps and plans which can also help you stay accountable and track your meditation progress.
Start of small
If 30 minutes just seems completely unachievable, start off with smaller blocks of time. It can often seem more achievable to just set 10 minutes a side per day. Over time you then might feel that you can increase this amount of time.
If you have any other suggestions or ideas of how best to fit meditation into a busy life, please let us know in the comments below.