People sometimes assume that you need a special (or specific, or appropriate, or quiet) place to meditate, and that it should be done at the same time (or some optimal time) every day.
But for those of us with kids, jobs and appointments at all hours, the traditonal times (dawn and dusk) and places (a temple) simply won’t work.
For meditation to be useful, we need to be creative and adaptable. We can’t wait for the ideal place or time.
Instead, we need to learn to process our feelings, relax our bodies and clear our minds — on the go. If we keep an eye out for the opportunities, it’s possible to integrate 20 or 30 minutes of meditation into the busiest of days; whether we’re at work, home or on holiday.
Unfortunately, you can't always make it Bali every time you want to meditate.
Eric Harrison, in his wonderful, practical little book, The 5-Minute Meditator explains exactly how to do this — while we wait, walk, commute, exercise or eat. He also describes how to relax by engaging with the sensory world, by “doing what you’re doing” and by paying close, mindful attention to all kinds of daily activities.
But you don’t need an expert, or even a book, to figure this out. You just need to release meditation from its stereotypes.
Over the years, I’ve been surprised and delighted at the places and strategies my students have come up with.
An oddly popular place to meditate.
Many have said, for example, that their go-to place for time-out is the toilet. They happily lock themselves in the cubicle at work, knowing that, for a few minutes at least, there’ll be no interruptions.
It might seem like a bizarre place for relaxation, but ‘rest’ or bathrooms are often used as places to recover your wits or composure, and to prepare or let go, and (as Lorin Roche says), meditation is “just taking a mental dump”, so what better place is there?
Personally, my top three places to meditate are:
1. The car; a safe, warm, cosy cocoon and mobile meditation ‘chamber’.
2. Airports and aeroplanes; because I’ve usually read the in-flight magazine before take-off.
3. At my desk; because I’m there.
Where do you meditate? Do you prefer a dedicated time and place, or a spontaneous ‘sit’ when you’re out and about? Let me know in the comments section below.