I’m a big fan of using to-do lists to help me get things done and may even be a little dependent on them. However, I recently saw this quote on one of my favourite websites which made me think about them differently:
“Life isn’t a big to-do list.” Leo Babauta (Zen Habits)
Of course, it’s a very simple idea and yet it can be a challenge to implement as we live such busy lives because we often get so caught up in planning for tomorrow and getting things done that we don’t appreciate what we have or where we are today.
So, with this in mind, I tried to meditate.
This was something I’d always been curious and cautious about in the past and after some reading (mindful.org), I realised that it doesn’t have to be as new-agey as it seems. You don’t need to follow some kind of Buddhist ritual and in fact, the only thing you need to actually ‘do’ is breathe and I figured even I could manage that.
However, breathing for meditation is different.
One way to do it is to not just breathe more slowly and mindfully, but also deeply and it takes some effort and focus to do all that. A lot of coordination at the same time!
The other thing that was a nice surprise was that I didn’t have to sit cross-legged on the floor in some awkward pose. It doesn’t matter where you sit, so I could just sit in my favourite armchair. Breathing and focusing. I tried for 5 minutes and yes, it was difficult focusing for that long, but I’d heard so many good things about meditation, I stuck with it.
And whaddya know, after my first meditation, I felt a gentle calm which was lovely and have been meditating since then and that was 6 months ago. I don’t do it every day, but 3/4 times a week for just 5 minutes. Maybe one day I’ll get round to doing longer meditations, but for the moment, it works well.
“We can’t control the sea, but we can learn how to surf the waves.” Headspace
In addition to the post-meditative calm which gives me the strength to deal with everyday stuff and the ‘crap of the world’, one of the benefits of getting into meditation has been the clarity of how I see my to-do lists now.
They’re no longer this massive list of things which need to get done immediately, but they’re an opportunity to prioritise and do a few (I’ve chosen 3) things well each day.
I’m learning how to do less, more.
The irony I guess is that sometimes in order to move forward we need to just sit still.