You know what always bothered me in the mainstream idea of meditation?
I know that’s not how meditation is required to look — but it’s popularized as something close to that. Mainstream opinion has a specific picture of what is meditation, a model of how it has to be practiced.
For instance, you have to:
- Find a calm place or time in your schedule
- Dedicate some time specifically to meditating (and nothing more)
- Follow a certain technique (focusing on breathing, etc.)
- Eliminating as many distractions as possible
That’s… A lot of requirements, right?
As a result, the resistance is also huge. There will always be a solid reason to not meditate. I’m sure you’re familiar with at least some of them.
- I don’t have enough time
- My environment isn’t calm and distraction-less enough
- I have so much to do, I can’t just go and meditate
That’s what I told myself.
I was really bad at finding the time and place to meditate even for a few minutes per day. At the same time, I loved the idea of mindfulness, of being in the moment, of living life consciously. I just couldn’t find the opportunities for it. I guess I was making excuses.
One day I decided that “half-meditation” is better than “no meditation.”
Half-mindfulness is better than no mindfulness.
What is half-mindfulness?
We all have activities we do on auto-pilot:
- Drinking coffee
- Doing the dishes
When I’m doing the stuff above, I’m only half-present.
Half-drinking coffee, half-reading or browsing the web.
Half-showering, half-thinking stuff.
I think about the day ahead, or about the previous day, or that…
…being human technicallymeans being 50% centaur.
I drift away in random thoughts with questionable value.
So what if I made myself some sort of reality anchor that would bring me back into the present moment? Can I turn these auto-pilot activities into half-meditation by anchoring myself in them?
Half-drinking coffee, half-meditating.
I decided to try it out.
I grabbed 4 stick-it cards and drew a triangle on each of them.
(No intended symbolism whatsoever, just the first thing that came to my mind.)
Then, I taped each of these papers to the surface I would most likely see during the activities on my auto-pilot list.
- The wall in my bathroom (showering)
- The wall directly above the kitchen table (eating)
- The wall directly above the sink (dishes)
I tried taping one of the anchors to my mug (as an anchor for when I drink coffee), but this turned to be a bit inconvenient and quite ugly, so I just left this anchor on my table.
Anyway, the idea was that my wandering mind would notice these pink notes and return to the present moment. They would be my reminders to stay mindful, to be here and now.
Just like an anchor keeps a ship in place.
How did it go?
Better than I expected, actually.
It worked like a charm
I can’t say I was fully present and mindful during 100% of my time in the shower or when doing the dishes—but at least I was more present than usual.
I did my best to get immersed in the activity, to give it my all, to be as much there as possible. Good enough for a “half-meditation.”
Here are a few changes I noticed during these sessions:
- I often felt grateful. For my water, food, coffee, for everything.
- I found myself open to more experiments. Taking a cold shower is one of them, eating fish is another. (I hate both.)
- I started drinking less coffee, often choosing water instead.
- I caught a few exciting ideas for future work.
Although I can’t say that my experiment was the direct reason for these changes, I feel it contributed a lot.
Now, the cherry on top.
How much time did it take
Before doing the auto-pilot activities that could be properly tracked (showering, eating, dishes) I started the stopwatch on my phone.
The average daily total (from 3 days) ended up close to this:
- Showering — 20 minutes
- Eating — 90 minutes
- Dishes — 10 minutes (the dishwasher does most of the work)
120 minutes of mindful half-meditation.
Two full hours.
Can two hours of half-meditation be counted as an hour of full-meditation?
I have no idea, but I think they can.
Better than nothing, right?
I’m not a meditation guru or an expert in mindfulness.
To be honest, my knowledge and experience on these topics is basic at most.
I just wanted to be more present in my own life — not wandering in some distant dreams, random thoughts, and memories with little real value.
My solution was bringing myself back into those fragments of my routine that are the least mindful, using my reality anchors. So far, I like the result and plan to continue with this experiment for at least a few weeks more.
Because half-mindfulness and half-meditation is better than nothing.
And, funny thing, some pink stick-it notes is all that it takes.