I don’t have time to meditate!

I’ve heard this many times in my meditation classes at Harvard University’s Center for Wellness. Granted, these are busy people (Harvard grad students, faculty and staff). But everyone can find time to meditate at least 5 minutes a day to start. Once you establish a regular practice, you’ll find that you need less sleep. After a couple of months, you’ll have a net gain in your “time budget”!

Try just setting your alarm clock for 10 or 15 minutes earlier. That allows time to get up, wash up so you are clean and fresh for meditation, and you’ll have 5 to 10 minutes to meditate.

Worried about missing your bus because you zoned out and meditated too long? Use a few songs from Sri Chinmoy’s Flute Music for Meditation. Choose ones whose time adds up to your available meditation time. Select them on your iPhone or other music player.

Or use a meditation timer. You can use a simple kitchen timer from the hardware store, or the alarm setting on your phone. Or if you want a really special meditation experience, get a Zen alarm clock with its beautiful wind chime sound. I use one to wake up in the morning and it’s heavenly! (www.now-zen.com)

Too tired in the morning? Try meditating during the first 5 or 10 minutes of your lunch hour, if you have access to a quiet place where you can shut the door. Or when you come home in the evening, before you eat dinner (because a heavy meal weighs you down and makes it hard to meditate).

These are the suggestions I often give to my Harvard classes. In my most recent class I asked these very smart people for their suggestions. Here are the best:

Decide the best regular time to meditate and set an alarm for that time in your iPhone or online calendar to remind you. (This is especially helpful for people who can’t meditate first thing in the morning. Otherwise the day tends to escape you.)

Meditate while doing something else like walking to the subway. Honestly, this is not the same quality of meditation as sitting quietly in your own sacred meditation space at home, but it’s better than nothing. Try to use it as a segue into silent meditation at home. And don’t do it while driving!

So if you can establish a regular meditation practice of 5 to 10 minutes a day, within a couple of weeks you will most likely find yourself easily wanting to sit for 15 to 20 minutes. You’re well on your way to a nice solid 30 minute meditation in the morning – at which time you most likely need 30 minutes less sleep at night. People who establish a regular and substantial meditation practice often find they need an hour less sleep. So you’ll be ahead of the game before you know it!

One more benefit: Focusing and calming your mind in meditation will help you work more efficiently and get more done, because you will be better able to pay attention to the many tasks you need to accomplish each day. So daily meditation is a win-win!

Begabati Lennihan, RN began meditating under the personal guidance of Sri Chinmoy as a student at Harvard in 1973. She practices as a holistic health care professional at the Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, Mass. and teaches meditation classes at Harvard University’s Center for Wellness among other venues in the Boston-Cambridge area.