No Time to Meditate Because Life Gets in the Way?
If you find you're too busy to meditate, you may need it more than you know.
Posted February 27, 2023 | Reviewed by Ekua Hagan
- Meditation offers benefits personally, relationally, and sexually.
- A few minutes of meditation can quietly connect mind and body and alleviate insecurity.
- Giving focused attention in an open, non-judgmental way can help one get the most out of life.
Living an intentional life is not easy. Jobs take time, school is always pressing, and maintaining relationships with family and friends is a constant demand. That’s not even accounting for the time and effort it takes to clean your house, shower, brush your teeth, do laundry, grocery shop, and prepare food. Life gets in the way of slowing down and being more intentional. Sometimes being mindful seems like a nice indulgence, but it doesn’t seem doable. It doesn’t seem practical.
A Few Minutes of Meditation a Day Is Practical, and Here’s Why
If mindfulness is going to fit within a busy life, we might need to think about it differently.
Think about this: The word "venture" means to do something daring that might risk loss. The saying “nothing ventured nothing gained” sums that up well. A venture capitalist risks her money on a new company or idea. The prefix "ad-" means toward. An ad-venture is when someone decides to do something daring or risk doing something different or unknown. Deciding to live a more mindful life may take a little venturing, but it may have a big payoff. Research certainly indicates that a little mindfulness results in big returns.
Benefits of Increasing Your Awareness
Here are a few examples of how slowing down and being quiet with yourself can benefit relationships:
- If I take a few minutes each day to quietly connect with my body, I might feel less insecurity and spend less time asking for reassurance.
- If I sit quietly each day for a few minutes and practice letting go of judgmental thoughts that keep crowding into my awareness, I may begin to also be less judgmental in my marriage or relationship.
- If I practice slowing down each day, when a tense moment with my partner arises, I can use those same skills to calm my mind and de-escalate the tension and instead communicate an understanding of my partner’s perspective.
What Meditation Can Do for Relationships
In recent research with healthcare providers[i], mindfulness was consistently (over 10 studies) linked to emotional intelligence, particularly an ability to regulate emotion. Additionally, mindfulness prevents emotional burnout. In other words, mindful individuals are hardier; they’re less likely to fold when things get difficult. A few minutes a day training your mind to relax results in better emotional balance, emotional awareness, emotional acceptance, emotion recognition, and a reduction in emotional exhaustion. That is powerful for any relationship.
Similar findings in romantic relationships showed that couples trained in mindfulness felt more inclined to see their partner with compassion, acceptance,[ii] and more forgiveness.[iii]
Meditation Makes You a Better Person
If you want to let go of fears and start achieving dreams, a few minutes of meditation each day is a great place to start. A few quiet minutes allows your mind to focus, and in fact, may reduce some aging effects through improved hormonal levels and telomere maintenance (a cellular indicator of longevity).[iv]
Mindful practices are linked to higher levels of positive emotion[v] and creativity.[vi] Seeing the good in situations, noticing a new way to solve a problem—these opportunities multiply when people take a little time to connect their body with their mind and soul. These findings help us to understand just a couple of the ways mindfulness opens paths for people to be their best.
Meditation Can Make You a Better Lover
When I Googled “What makes a good lover?” there were some silly answers like the quality of their voice or their kissing style. While I wouldn’t say those are irrelevant, what research tells us is that being sensitive to your partner’s needs, wants, desires, and feelings, and placing them on an equal basis with their own, is what is most important.[vii]
Mindfulness creates an other-centered perspective in spades.[viii] There is abundant research showing that mindful partners communicate better, connect more frequently, feel more relational and sexual satisfaction, and orgasm more consistently.[ix] When couples feel they matter emotionally and have created a sense of trust, their body responds in pleasurable ways.
Give Yourself a Few Minutes a Day, Even When Life Gets in the Way
Life is busy. You’re not likely to have extra time, spare time, or downtime—what you have is the present. Choose to train yourself to give focused attention in an open, non-judgmental way so that you can really get the most out of life, your relationship, and your daily experience.
[i] Jiménez-Picón, N., Romero-Martín, M., Ponce-Blandón, J. A., Ramirez-Baena, L., Palomo-Lara, J. C., & Gómez-Salgado, J. (2021). The relationship between mindfulness and emotional intelligence as a protective factor for healthcare professionals: systematic review. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(10), 5491.
[ii] Leavitt, C. E., Allsop, D. B., Gurr, J., Fawcett, E., Boden, J., Driggs, S., & Hawkins, A. J. (2021). A couples’ relationship education intervention examining sexual mindfulness and trait mindfulness. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 1-13.
[iii] Karremans, J. C., van Schie, H. T., van Dongen, I., Kappen, G., Mori, G., van As, S., ... & van der Wal, R. C. (2020). Is mindfulness associated with interpersonal forgiveness?. Emotion, 20(2), 296-306
[iv] Epel, E., Daubenmier, J., Moskowitz, J. T., Folkman, S., & Blackburn, E. (2009). Can meditation slow rate of cellular aging? Cognitive stress, mindfulness, and telomeres. Annals of the new York Academy of Sciences, 1172(1), 34-53.
[v] Fredrickson, B. L., Boulton, A. J., Firestine, A. M., Van Cappellen, P., Algoe, S. B., Brantley, M. M., ... & Salzberg, S. (2017). Positive emotion correlates of meditation practice: A comparison of mindfulness meditation and loving-kindness meditation. Mindfulness, 8, 1623-1633.
[vi] Lebuda, I., Zabelina, D. L., & Karwowski, M. (2016). Mind full of ideas: A meta-analysis of the mindfulness–creativity link. Personality and Individual Differences, 93, 22-26.
As well as—Kleinplatz, P. J., Ménard, A. D., Paquet, M. P., Paradis, N., Campbell, M., Zuccarino, D., & Mehak, L. (2009). The components of optimal sexuality: A portrait of “great sex”. Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 18(1-2), 1-13.
[viii] Khaddouma, A., Coop Gordon, K., & Strand, E. B. (2017). Mindful mates: A pilot study of the relational effects of mindfulness‐based stress reduction on participants and their partners. Family Process, 56(3), 636-651.
Atkinson, B. J. (2013). Mindfulness training and the cultivation of secure, satisfying couple relationships. Couple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice, 2(2), 73.
[ix] Leavitt, C. E., Whiting, J. B., & Hawkins, A. J. (2021). The sexual mindfulness project: An initial presentation of the sexual and relational associations of sexual mindfulness. Journal of Couple & Relationship Therapy, 20(1), 32-49.
Eyring, J. B., Leavitt, C. E., Allsop, D. B., & Clancy, T. J. (2021). Forgiveness and gratitude: Links between couples’ mindfulness and sexual and relational satisfaction in new cisgender heterosexual marriages. Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy, 47(2), 147-161.
Leavitt, C. E., Maurer, T. F., Clyde, T. L., Clarke, R. W., Busby, D. M., Yorgason, J. B., ... & James, S. (2021). Linking sexual mindfulness to mixed-sex couples’ relational flourishing, sexual harmony, and orgasm. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50(6), 2589-2602.