No Time to Meditate? Try Guerrilla Mindfulness!

“Nick, I really feel that daily meditation would benefit me, but I’m just so busy, it’s impossible for me to fit it into the day.”

This is, hands down, the most common reason I hear people give for why they don’t meditate.

Believe me, I get it. I’ve got 3 young kids, a business, and I do a lot of volunteer work. I know where you’re coming from!

But if you get a little creative, you’ll find that it’s actually quite easy to fit a lot of mindfulness into an impossibly busy day. The trick is to divide your mindfulness practice into two categories: sitting practice and non-sitting practice.

Sitting Practice

Sitting practice is when you create as ideal conditions as possible for your meditation. You find a private spot where you won’t be disturbed that’s relatively quiet and where you can sit reasonably comfortably for an uninterrupted chunk of time. It’s a great way to both learn and practice mindfulness because distractions are kept to a minimum and you’ve set aside time specifically to do the practice.

If you are new to mindfulness meditation, I recommend you start with just 15 minutes a day, either in the morning or in the evening.

But, if you’re super busy and can’t spare 15 minutes, try for 10, or even 5. If that’s still impossible, perhaps because you don’t have the privacy or other conditions needed, it’s time to use some guerrilla tactics!

Guerrilla Mindfulness for Sitting Practice

You can squeeze in some meditation time by using what I call Guerrilla Mindfulness. Guerrilla Mindfulness is when you incorporate mindfulness practice into your daily activities.

Examples of Guerrilla Mindfulness (Sitting):

  • when you get in the car, take a few minutes and meditate before starting the engine. You can also do this after parking your car
  • when you go to the bathroom, whether it’s at home or at work, meditate for a couple of minutes before you leave the stall
  • when you lie down in bed, meditate until you fall asleep. This will also help you get a better sleep!

The trick to making this kind of practice work is to go for quality over quantity. Imagine that the two minutes you are meditating in your car are the only two minutes you will get all day to practice, so make them count! Really pay attention!

The great thing about short practice sessions is that it’s easier to maintain high standards for the entire practice time than it is for longer sessions, like 30 min or 45 min or longer. And, if you can do a bunch of short sessions like this a few times a day, it keeps you on a more even keel during the day and builds a bit of momentum that makes the next meditation session easier.

When my son, Kai, was still in afternoon pre-school, I used to take him to Arts Umbrella on Granville Island (Vancouver, BC, Canada) a couple of times a week in the morning for his art class. After dropping him off, I’d walk over to the Emily Carr University Library, which was close by, find a quiet spot deep in the stacks, and meditate for 15 to 20 minutes before picking him up and taking him to school. For about a year, that was how I squeezed in my main practice time of the day.

Non-Sitting Practice

Mindfulness meditation isn’t limited to sitting on your butt with your eyes closed for 15 min (or however long you want to sit). Being mindful is also about taking it to the streets! Making it part of your regular life. This is the other category of mindfulness practice I mentioned earlier: non-sitting practice.

Really, every moment of every day is the right time to be mindful. You don’t need special conditions or a defined time.

In fact, one of the surest ways to dramatically transform your life for the better, is to be continuously mindful during every moment throughout the day. Mindful of every action, every thought, every word, every intention, every feeling, and so on.

Obviously, that’s a tall order for mere mortals like us!

But, there is an easy way to start moving toward this ideal and start getting some of the benefits of this type of practice, without being completely overwhelmed by the task.

Guerrilla Mindfulness for Non-Sitting Practice

Choose something that you do every day that is already part of your normal routine, that you usually do by yourself, silently.

In other words, you want an activity where you are not usually talking with someone or needing to listen to someone while doing it.

Examples of Guerrilla Mindfulness (Non-Sitting):

  • whenever you find yourself waiting in line for something, be mindful of the sensations in your feet. Feel how they contact the ground, any sensations of warmth or coolness, and any sensations of pressure. See if you can notice how those sensations change over time, both while standing and while taking a step
  • whenever you find yourself walking somewhere, pay attention to the sensations of pressure, temperature and movement in your feet as you walk
  • whenever you take out your phone, be mindful of the sensations in your hands and fingers as you hold and operate the phone. Feel the sensations of pressure, the coolness of the smooth surface of the phone as you swipe it with your fingers, and any other tactile sensations as you use the phone
  • whenever you are using a computer, feel the sensations in your hands and fingers as your fingers move to press the keys. Feel each finger extending, feel your fingertips as they contact the keys, notice the texture and temperature of the keyboard, and notice the sensations in the fingers and hands when you pause your typing for a moment. Feel the sensations as your arm extends and your hand grasps the mouse and moves the mouse around. Feel the tactile sensations while clicking and scrolling with the mouse
  • whenever you sit down in a chair, notice the sensations in your body as you lower yourself onto the seat of the chair: the contraction in your quads and the stretching in your glutes. Notice the feeling of pressure as your body weight settles onto the seat of the chair
  • every time you stand up, notice the sensations in your body, such as the feelings of pressure as you push with your hands and arms, the contraction in your quads and calf muscles, and the extension of your legs as you get up from a seated position

Here’s some other activities that are great for Guerrilla Mindfulness:

  • brushing your teeth
  • washing your hands
  • having a shower
  • filling up with gas
  • waiting for a red light to turn green
  • preparing meals
  • taking out the garbage
  • doing the dishes
  • cleaning the house
  • getting dressed
  • exercising

You get the idea! The main thing is to drop into the body when you do the activity. Pay attention to the sensations of pressure, heat and movement in different parts of your body while engaged in the activity.

Sitting + Non-Sitting = Positive Feedback Loop

When you combine sitting and non-sitting practice during your day, you’ll find that they mutually support and enhance each other: you’ve created a positive feedback loop.

Mindfulness is a skill, and like any skill, the more you practice it, the better you get at it and the easier it gets. So, use whatever guerrilla tactics are necessary to squeeze in some practice time each day. Once you start noticing the benefits, and it won’t take long, you’ll see the value of the practice in a new light, and you’ll naturally start making more time for it.

Now, I’d love to hear from you. Choose one Guerrilla Mindfulness sitting practice and one Guerrilla Mindfulness non-sitting practice that you will try out today and tell me what they are in the comments below!

P.S. If you like this kind of stuff and want to discover how to develop mindfulness effectively and apply it in a simple, straightforward way, then you may be interested in signing up for my weekly blog updates.

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13 Responses to “No Time to Meditate? Try Guerrilla Mindfulness!”

  1. Pam Jenner

    I will be doing more driving and when I have a couple of minutes in the car getting in or out in the time I have allowed. When I am working out at the gym I am listening to my body and how it is feeling so I can just put one step further by being mindful at the same time.

    • Kendel Ann Kissinger

      I actually taught myself to meditate as a way to tolerate a painful medical procedure (PRP injections). I became in awe of my pain and fascinated by it. Honestly, I just like watching it. who knew someone could stab you in the back with a huge needle and you’d feel pain on the other side of your body? Wild stuff. I just focused in on my breathing and it happened. I can tolerate all kinds of pain in that space.

  2. karen jones

    I do not sitting mindfulness while washing the dishes. Sitting mindfulness while on the bus.

  3. Paul Smith

    Hey Nick, i try and pratise whenever i can, i havent done any sitting pratise yet just try and be mindfull whenever i can, i have aniexty and whenever it stricks i centre myself and be mindful helps to distract the mind. I will move onto sitting pratise soon. Love your work

  4. Peter McGuirk

    Love your work.
    I try to be mindful whenever I remember. I also use emotiins to trugger mi dfulness.
    Wish I had had a resiurce like You tears ago, may have saved me a lot of time and angst
    Or natbe I wasn’t listening.

  5. Jacqueline Watson

    Hi Nick, I love the guerilla meditating concept & will use it as much as possible during my day. It definitely takes the edge off difficult times & keeps me in the moment. Thank you

  6. Calin Lupa

    Hi Nick, I am trying to bring bits of mindfulness to everyday activities as you describe here. I do it before sleep, in the shower, while siting in front of my PC. I wonder if there are any methods for, or if is even possible, to keep the mindful attitude (observer) during intense intellectual activities?

    • Nickolas Grabovac

      Great work bringing mindfulness into your daily life Calin! Yes, it is definitely possible to remain mindful during intense intellectual activities. It requires developing the ability to increase the level of focused attention without losing the awareness of what is going on around you and, especially, what is going on in the mind. You know how, when you get ‘super focused’ on a task, you completely lose touch with what else is going on, lose track of time, etc? You basically need to gradually train yourself so that you can have an equivalent level of focus, without completely losing touch.

  7. Kate Frank

    I loved this. I used traffic lights as my suiting practice and walking my dogs as my non sitting practice. I noticed so much more than I expected and kept me in the moment. Thank You, Nick.

    • Nickolas Grabovac

      Awesome Kate! I use traffic lights, too. They’re so perfect for this kind of practice: red = stop, and bring mindfulness to this moment =)

  8. Batool Idrish

    Hi Nick, I guess I have been unconsciously practising Guerilla Meditation. It is indeed challenging to keep your mind on sensations when hundreds of thoughts are whispering to your mind.

  9. Zandra

    Im new to this. I’ll try and see how it goes for a couple of weeks. I’ll let you know how I goes and how i feel after a few weeks. Thank you for telling the many ways to do the sitting and non-sitting meditations. I also have that’s willing to do it with me.

  10. Caroline

    Hi Nick,

    So glad I have found this. I have read books on mindfulness and tried them, I have tried meditating too. My life is chaos, I have severe PTSD, depression, anxiety and continuous negative rushing thoughts. I hope this helps, will try and practice it each day. Start small isn’t it and this here is it. I have also posted this on my FB for all contacts to support me on my 30 day mindfulness challenge.
    Anyone wanna jump on board and help me look for name Caroline Smithers.
    Thank you

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