The idea of mediation has always appealed to me. The reality of meditation has not. When meditation gurus tell me to start meditating by clearing my mind, my heart sinks.
My mind is filled with ideas, projects, to-do lists, meal planning, my day job, chores, looking after my family, home schooling, exercising, etc.
I fully accept that learning to clear my mind is a valuable practice that would benefit me greatly. I’m just too exhausted and time poor to learn. Instead, I’ve developed some different ways to “meditate” that take 10 mins or less, transport me to another world and leave me with a feeling of peace.
Many people haven't been taught proper cursive handwriting at school. It’s a pity. There's something primal about communicating by making marks. That is why analogue writing, with a pen or a beautifully sharpened pencil, on a smooth white page, is a deeply satisfying act.
One of my favourite ways to take a break is to use a dip pen and ink to copy out a poem in a notebook. I usually copy my favourite Japanese haiku.
Although you can copy any poem you like, haiku are perfect for my 10 min meditation, because they are short. You can set out your materials, copy your poem, and put everything away all within 10 minutes. When I'm doing this meditation, I copy from a real book rather than from a screen. It's too tempting to check my email or social media if I've got a screen in front of me!Dipping the pen into ink, the slight friction of the nib on a smooth page and the words of an exquisite poem forming beneath my pen, is an instant oasis of calm.
A quick and lovely way to interrupt stress is to sit down quietly, or with some calming music, and fold a paper crane. Origami is good way to meditate because quiet concentrated precision is needed to create a beautiful specimen. Folding a crane is my favourite origami because it is so beautiful. It’s relatively easy to learn.
You don’t need any special paper - just a square -which you can make by cutting some A4 printer paper to size. Once you can fold a crane well, you can think about buying some traditional Japanese paper - like the paper in the picture. Then your cranes become little works of art and you become an artist.
Bach with score
One of my all time favourite ways to switch off for a short break is to listen to music while following the printed music. I particularly like individual instrumental music. An orchestral score is too busy and defeats the purpose of calming my mind. The music for a single instrument, with a single melody line, takes just enough effort to occupy my mind without exhausting it.
Bach's Sontatas and Partitas for violin are perfect for this purpose. Just a single melody line for beautiful, mathematical music played by one violin. My favourite recording of all time is the one pictured on my Spotify app in the photo - played by Arthur Grumiaux. It's clean, precise and clinical - like listening to the building blocks of the universe.
If your music reading skills are a bit rusty, then listen while looking at an art book. Set your timer for 10 minutes and let your mind float away.
For us, here in the UK, it's becoming very important to be able to let our weary minds roam free while remaining in our own homes.
If you're like me and just don't have the zen to sit quietly, in silence, for any length of time, then perhaps the ways I've found will help you too. I hope so. ❤️