By Arden Martin. Originally posted on ardenmeditates.com
No one starts meditating because they have 40 extra minutes in the day, am I right? We seek meditation because we want to thrive in our busy lives. So many people wish to establish a regular habit (of exercising, cooking, meditating, whatever) but feel like they simply can't fit it in. If this is you, I would argue that you probably do have the time, but you may not be using it as well as you could. This is not your fault - life is demanding! But you're responsible for taking action if you feel dissatisfied, and meditation gives you the energy to use your time optimally. It allows you to get more done and focus on activities that truly make you happy.
When we get home from a long day at work, all we want is to do nothing at all. Before I started meditating, this was my daily experience. When I walked through the door after hours of wrangling five-year-olds, all I could conceive of was putting on sweatpants and vegging out. The idea of doing ONE MORE productive thing with my day was just too much. As someone who gets zero alone time at work, I couldn't wait to hit the couch and stare at a screen, because it allowed me to check out and be selfish for a few precious minutes. But when I ultimately got bored of the screen, I hadn't regained any energy. I felt drained, lazy, and ready to call it a night. If a friend wanted to meet for dinner or hit up a workout class in my pre-meditation life, I was either "too busy" or "too tired." Having fun on a weeknight was out of the question.
But here's the truth: when I claimed I "didn't have time" to cook, work out, or see friends, the reality was I didn't feel like it because I had no effective means of restoring the energy that I had expended. I was usually free between 7 and 9 pm, but I wanted to spend it horizontally. There's nothing wrong with staying in to watch TV, but I'm not willing to accept a life in which I'm so depleted that my go-to leisure activity is doing nothing. When I'm using my free time to numb out by watching Bravo and stalking Kylie Jenner on Instagram (love her sneaker game though), I'm NOT using that time to explore my neighborhood, cultivate a friendship, or create something beautiful.
Meditating after work allows me to have a life outside of it. When we practice Vedic meditation, we give our bodies deep rest that is about 5 times more powerful than sleep. Even on days when I start my meditation feeling drained or defeated, I finish with a fresh supply of energy. My workday is completely behind me and the evening becomes a clean slate that I can fully enjoy.
And you know what the best, most ironic part is? I used to think I didn't have time to meditate, but meditation gives me the same experience of "doing nothing" that I used to seek through mindless eating or television. Even better, meditation allows me to LITERALLY do nothing and come out feeling like a million bucks on the other side. When I finish a Making a Murderer binge-watching session, my stress is still there and I'm ready for a nap. When I finish a meditation session, I have less stress and more energy. There will always be a place in my life for television and snacks, but I no longer turn to them when I'm stressed.
So that all-too-common problem of not having time or energy to do things? It doesn't have to exist. Meditation takes time out of your day, but you get it all back because you no longer spend time numbing out to relieve stress (unsuccessfully) or trying and failing to effectively multitask. When we take time to meditate regularly, we go about our days with purpose and clarity. We make better decisions about what really needs to be done so we can simply focus, do it, and move on. As a result, we no longer feel like there are "not enough hours in the day." We ultimately end up with more time and energy to do whatever we want - which may in fact be crushing snacks in front of the TV - but we are able to fully enjoy whatever we choose guilt-free.
Related bonus: The more we practice meditation, the less sleep we need, which also allows us to get more done. I've got a post about this brewing, but in the meantime I hope this inspires you to do nothing so you can accomplish more.
CONSIDER THIS: How much time do you spend decompressing each day? Do your current ways of decompressing give you energy or make you more tired? What if you had the time and energy to do what truly brings you joy? How would you use it?