Meditators know that every minute spent in practice is meaningful. Each moment takes us one step closer to our goal. No effort is ever wasted. That’s why we stay alert and watch for opportunities.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re in the middle of a project, and suddenly the lights flicker and shut off. All electrical appliances stop working. Your home becomes eerily quiet. After a few minutes of dark silence, you realize that something major happened. Maybe a tree fell, breaking a power line. You don’t know how long you’ll be in the dark.
Consider another scenario: Your dentist’s office calls. There’s been a mix-up, and your appointment must be rescheduled. Great! Instead of spending the afternoon driving, sitting in the waiting room, and getting your teeth cleaned, you get hours of unexpected free time. The same happens when your soccer game gets rained out—a little respite from busyness.
Power outages and canceled events affect our plans. What do you do when the lights go out? Are you at a loss for how to spend unexpected downtime? To make the most of it, let’s turn to the examples of the experts. I don’t mean today’s efficiency gurus. I’m referring to the ancient sages of India.
Here’s their story: The Indian subcontinent is affected by annual monsoons. These weather events occur from changes in Himalayan winds. They cause torrential rains that last for months. During this time, streets are flooded, making travel difficult, even unhealthy. People tend to stay close to home.
Monsoons differ from the shorter storms that might cause our power outages. Indians call this season chaturmasa (the four-month season). This is an auspicious time. During the rainy season, yogis meditate more often and for longer periods. They spend more time in devotional singing, study, and contemplation. These practices yield rich results, such as deep inner peace. Study and contemplation inspire them, and joy springs spontaneously from within.
The effects of seasonal changes are not limited to Indian yogis. The rainy season is similar to the winters we experience in the West. Here, the days shorten, and nature’s dormancy sets in. Leaves fall from their trees, and animals hibernate. Like flora and fauna, we also slow down. It’s time to recharge.
Monsoons, winter months, and unexpected schedule changes stir us to follow the yogi’s example. We can increase our practices during these times. No matter the duration, we can take advantage of them. And just as nature awakens with strength and vigor in the spring, we discover renewal.
Let’s Get Ready!
In the West, we rarely see more than a day or two interrupted by natural events. However, other opportunities might present themselves. What do you do with unexpected gifts of time? If you’re not prepared, you might lose that time in confusion or puttering. Life resumes, and the opportunity passes. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan.
We expect seasonal changes and prepare for them. It’s those unexpected moments that need vigilance. Take a moment now to jot down three spiritual activities you can do during unexpected gifts of time.
Here’s a short list of suggestions:
- Conscious breathing
- Simple yoga postures
- Devotional chanting
- Inspirational reading
Any of these activities might lead to another. For example, a simple yoga posture helps to balance your breath. Quiet breathing leads easily into meditation.
Place your list where you can easily find it. Using a mobile device is fine if you keep it charged and can access your notes in a power outage.
Now that you’re ready, watch for your next opportunity. It could happen at any moment.
Chityānanda has been a disciple of Svāmī Gurupremānanda Sarasvatī since 1975. She teaches meditation and yoga as a spiritual path in Santa Cruz, California.
Muktananda alluded to the fact that the sole purpose of the human birth was to realize the Truth and ultimately become That. So if one is aware of this Truth, aside from monsoons, pandemics, and such, one should spend every available moment of time, to attain this realization.
Not that I am one to do what I know or say, just expressing what I should be doing.
I appreciate your candor, Tosh. Most of us fall short of spending every available moment for our spiritual growth. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t keep working on it! Namaste.
I like the comment about being vigilant, especially during unexpected moments. It’ll be interesting to see what my mind turns to when there are open windows of time. Thank for the suggestion of making a list. It will help me stay focused on what my interests are, and if I am following them.
Thank you, Megan. Yes, vigilance is probably one of the most important qualities of a spiritual aspirant. There’s so much that competes for our attention in today’s world. Without that vigilance (constant awareness and determination), we let others determine how we spend our time. And then it’s wasted away. Good luck with your list! Namaste.
I have been using this time well, preparing, spring cleaning, contemplating … Your suggestions had not occurred to me and I will take your advice. I have been doing some spiritual practices in my own way. Reaching out to friends in need. Posting and reposting uplifting and encouraging messages.
Cleaning my physical space and thus my mental / energetic space. Shopping for friends, asking what they need when I need to go to the store. Preparing for the worst while keeping my mind on the most desirable possible outcome, oneness.
Thank you for your comment, David. Those are some great suggestions for being proactive in these unusual times. You seem to be a natural for the principles involved in Karma Yoga. Namaste.
I like your idea of planning. Actions yield results. It’s easy to do what comes natural. In Book Six of Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, he gives himself a command to keep an important idea in mind: “Meditate often.” He wanted to throw his meditations in the trash. Perhaps a conditioned response to follow a command avoiding confusion. His life depended on it.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Tony. Marcus Aurelius was a stoic. Yogis appreciate stoicism. It has so many similarities to our path. Namaste.
I am a follower of Jesus. I found that I could apply this article to my faith walk.
– So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
– Lord, make me to know my end, and what is the measure of my days, that I may know how frail I am. Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths, and my age is an nothing before You. (Psalm 39:4-5)
Thank you for your contribution, Richard. I especially like the Bible references. Please feel free to comment with relevant Bible verses on Quiet Karma’s posts. Yogis are open to teachings from all religions. Namaste.
I have found that unless I keep my next Spiritual Task in the upper part of my mind, queued up and ready for implementation, the day can get away from me before I have given that practice its due consideration. Unanticipated breaks, are helpful, but only if I am already chomping at the bit, hankering, even craving for reading from scripture or for meditation. Otherwise, I will just use the time to check email.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment, Richard. Being prepared because it’s already a priority makes it much easier to make good use of unexpected windows of time. Namaste.