Have you ever thought, “I don’t have time to meditate?” Have you ever used lack of time as an excuse to not meditate? Of course you have. We all have. We evaluate activities by how long they take and their results.
I get that. We want to spend our time effectively and consciously. Time is limited and often described as our most precious possession.
But when we focus in meditation trainings on how to get results in the least amount of time — 5 min per day? Check. One moment per day? Check — I believe we are missing something.
While I support anything that gets us to meditate for any amount of time, I want to bust the myth that meditation steals your time.
On a recent call with one of my teachers, Martha Beck, she shared that the longer she meditates the faster she gets things done. She finds that oftentimes tasks take considerably less time than she had estimated. Meditation saves you time. That is also my experience and that of other meditators.
I think meditation saves us time because when we meditate, we sit in silence until we know what really needs to be done and how, and then have the clarity and energy needed to act. We are motivated to take action and our actions need less effort.
Lao Tzu said in the Tao Te Ching: “Do nothing and there is nothing left undone.” Of course the concept of “do nothing” is not “don’t do anything.” It’s do what needs to be done. Meditation helps us feel as well as see that.
How does that work? Let’s look at it in more detail.
7 reasons why meditation saves you time during the day
- It slows down your sense of time. When you meditate you focus on one moment at a time. Instead of being lost in thoughts or on autopilot, you suddenly have many moments at your disposal. Giving yourself the luxury of time to meditate — Time to feel the breath, to slow down, even to be bored – you remember this sense of time during the day, which otherwise might be dominated by the feeling of “I don’t have time.” Instead, you notice that you have time to pay attention.
- Spending time in formal meditation every day will make you spontaneously more mindful outside of meditation, meaning you will be aware of more moments during the day.
- Beginner’s mind (being open to experiencing things as if for the first time) allows you to activate parts of your memory for “first time experiences”. Remember your first kiss? Or the first time you drove a car by yourself? Don’t you remember it like it took a long time? We are so awake and present for the first time we do something. We use all of our senses and attention for it so that we do get a lot more information bits in, which in turns makes us feel like it takes longer. When we do things over and over the “first time” attention is lost and we switch into autopilot mode.
- Meditating will activate your parasympathetic (or “rest and digest”) part of the nervous system. This helps you recharge your batteries so you can handle time demands and other stress in a better (and usually more time efficient) way.
- Meditation helps you to see things more in the bigger picture, which makes you more relaxed as you deal with them. You make better decisions and get them done better and more efficiently. Plus you will drop some items on your list because you decide that they are just not worth your time and attention.
- All of the above will help you get back into creative mode (being stressed and burned out suffocates creativity), which is a state of flow, spaciousness and playfulness.
- In meditation you cultivate equanimity. You learn to not resist moments of discomfort and to let them just disappear by itself. This means they will pass a lot faster, which in turn gives you more time in the day to pay attention to what might be pleasant around you.
Plus a big bonus point: Meditation time counts as sleep time. If you are afraid to take time away from your already reduced sleep time: do not fear. Your brain wave activity in meditation will move into a similar pattern as it appears in light sleep.
Now I want to hear from you: What is your experience with meditation and time?
Share your experiences and thoughts in the comment section below.