No time to meditate? Dr. Tiffany Lester of Parsley Health offers peace-producing solution you can practice wherever you are—no meditation cushion or timer needed.
One day on my usual subway commute to work I noticed this older Indian woman. She stood out among the rush hour throng of people because she had the most peaceful, serene look on her face. As I was stressing out about being late for my first patient, I thought to myself “What is her secret?”
Of all the people in the world, I knew two men who would have the answer—His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I went to the library to check out The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, a story of two friends who have survived the most horrific circumstances yet still exude such peace and joy. One of the most powerful passages in the book was on the very first page:
“No dark fate determines the future. We do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and re-create our lives. This is the power we wield.”
How do we access this power in the rush of our modern world? With our thoughts. While it can sometimes seem like we have no control over our crazy monkey mind, we can push the pause button 100 times a day while still being productive. Doing this on a regular basis will actually make us more productive and present.
Put Peace into Practice with this Walking Meditation
Runners have this funny term “Fartlek,” which originated from the Swedes. This concept is about being unstructured and alternating hard sprints with easy jogs throughout a run. When running you focus on a certain point (tree, mailbox) to sprint to and then ease up. It creates a natural flow and rhythm to running. It’s the delicate balance of presence and absence.
We can practice this flow in our daily life as well (even if running a marathon sounds like absolute torture). I’m talking about the art of hurrying slowly, coined by Eckhart Tolle as the “Fartleks of Presence.” Often I see patients in my practice who say they absolutely don’t have time to meditate for 10 minutes a day. The practice of hurrying slowly is a mindfulness meditation you can easily include into your daily routine. It doesn’t require you to sit on a cushion, set a timer, or wake up early.
Here’s how it works: say you are running to catch your train or driving to work. Even as you are rushing about, focus on one spot like a mailbox. From the present moment until you reach that mailbox, focus on having no thoughts, just being exactly where you are. You can do this multiple times alternating between thinking and not thinking to cultivate being in the present moment as a type of meditation.
The practice of hurrying slowly, taking these little breaks in your daily routine, can put you on the path to lasting peace. How can you add some Fartleks to your life today?
by Tiffany Lester M.