Are you one of those people who say, "I used to meditate" or "I meditate sometimes" but "I can't keep it up because I don't have time"? Meditation comes in many forms – and it may be something you do without noticing.
Last week I had lunch with a friend, Tim, who, with only a little prompting, began to rhapsodize about fly fishing. You know, standing hip-deep in a stream, casting and waiting and reeling them in, only to let them go, because after all, this is about the experience, not about eating the fish. It had always seemed kind of silly to me, but not when Tim got done telling me about it. He told me about the wonders of being still, connected to all of nature, hearing the rush of water over rapids and the breeze ruffling the trees, feeling the sun on his face, seeing the glint of sunlight on tree leaves, the beauty of myriad colors in a freshly caught rainbow trout, the smell of the stream and the fish. He described the sensitivity he felt in his hands because of the lightweight equipment, and the connection to, no, the dance with the fish as he reeled it in. He's been doing it for over 20 years, and it's always a thrill.
That reminded me of figure skating in my childhood. It was different back then, because people actually skated figures – the famed figure eights, as well as three lobed figures, called serpentines, and circles within circles, in many variations – forwards, backwards, turning once or twice in the middle of each circle, and on and on. This required intense concentration on very slow, fluid movements, because if you lost your concentration, even for a moment, a part of your body would bobble; you could see the result of that on the ice as an imperfection from the ideal. (Today, the emphasis is on freeskating, the jumps and spins skated to music, because that is what sells on TV, and sadly, most of the "figure" skating is lost). You skated the same figures over and over and over again, for years sometimes, till you got them right in front of a mostly impartial audience.
And then, today, I found this article in the NY Times, "Your Brain on Baseball"
( http://select.nytimes.com/2007/03/18/opinion/18brooks.html?n=Top%2fOpinion%2fEditorials%20and%20Op%2dEd%2fOp%2dEd%2fColumnists%2fDavid%20Brooks ). David Brooks talks about training the unconscious mind to do things well through repetition and about how some things are done better without thinking about them.
Does this all sound like meditation to you? It sure does to me. In all these cases, your focus solely on what you're doing chases out random, or even pointed, conscious thoughts, and allows for a wider, sometimes mystical, experience. Maybe you can get that fly fishing, or doing baseball drills, or shooting basketball freethrows. or golfing, or cycling, or running. I do it when I walk, either focusing completely on my surroundings, or on an affirmation (a kind of mantra) as I walk. I have a friend who goes there just by vacuuming – she gets so absorbed in the motion and the look of the carpet!
So if you "don't have time to meditate", maybe you can meditate just by focusing on your senses and performance in sports or even mundane tasks. How can you incorporate meditation into every day life?