Checking In

Be here now. Be someplace else later. Is that so complicated?‘ – David M. Bader

One thing that makes meditation easier is if you blend the practice into your day. And, aside from maintaining mindfulness in everything you do, one of the best ways to integrate meditation is to take a few moments at regular times throughout each day to check in with your mind and body.

You don’t have to sit cross legged or even close your eyes – it’s nothing radical. Just stop – take a moment to pull your attention inwards, and sit within yourself for a half minute or so.

At this point, it’s a process of noticing, and adjusting.

  • Notice wherever there is tension in the body and consciously try to let go.
  • Notice how you feel. As you quietly note it, no matter how uncomfortable it feels, accept it and consciously relax around it.
  • Notice how you’re breathing. Let go of the OUT breaths.
  • Notice what kinds of thoughts you’re having and choose to insert Metta thoughts – kindness and compassion.

Checking in keeps the mind reacquainted with the body, and supports the synergistic relationship between the two – making it such that, when it comes time to practice for half an hour or more, it’s easier to surrender to meditation.

For a few people, however, checking in forms their entire practice.

For example, I had a student, we’ll call him Sam, who did publicity for a politician. He was on call most of the time, travelled a lot and had highly irregular hours, so he had a lot of trouble maintaining a regular practice. As such, he loved this, and did it constantly.

He said, ‘I like it because I can squeeze little mini-meditations into all the tiny spaces of my day. Like, while standing in a queue at the airport, instead of worrying and watching the clock, I pull my attention inwards and check in … take care of business, so to speak … relax my body, my breath, my face. Might be for only thirty seconds, but it’s like sipping cool water on a hot day.

‘And sometimes in a meeting, if I’m not called upon, I’ll close my eyes and check in. Relax my shoulders and face, and breathe. I’m still aware of what’s being said, but my attention is And if someone asks me what I’m doing, I’ll open my eyes and tell them I’m thinking. And no matter that it might only have been five or ten seconds, I always come out refreshed.’

Personally I don’t think checking in can replace a complete meditation practice, but in Sam’s case, well, I figured it couldn’t hurt.