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.