When most people think of meditation, they conjure up an image of a serene looking person sitting cross legged with their eyes closed in some kind of beautiful beachfront scenery. While this kind of meditation is great, it’s not the only way to meditate.
In fact, you can meditate without sitting or closing your eyes at all. When people hear this, they are often intrigued. Most people have heard of the mental and physical health benefits of meditation by now (including preventing disease, reducing stress, and treating depression), but many people still hesitate to try it simply because the idea of sitting still with nothing to do but look at the inside of their eyelids for even a few minutes seems entirely unappealing.
Luckily, you don’t have to learn to like sitting still in order to practice and reap the benefits of meditation. You just need to find an alternative form of practice.
Here are five alternative methods of meditation you should try.
The word Qigong is made up of two Chinese words: Qi (pronounced “chee”) means life force or the energy that flows through all things in the universe. Gong (pronounced “gung”) means accomplishment or skill that is cultivated through steady practice. Together, Qigong means cultivating energy.
Qigong is an integration of physical postures, breathing techniques, and focused intentions practiced for health maintenance, healing, and increasing vitality. The focus on intention and breath gives the the practice it’s meditative quality.
The practices can actually be classified as martial, medical, and/or spiritual in nature. But regardless of your intentions, Qigong has many health benefits for all. The gentle, rhythmic movements reduce stress, build stamina, increase vitality, and enhance the immune system. Practicing this ancient art form has been shown to improve cardiovascular, respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, and digestive functions, not to mention giving you all the health benefits that come along with regular meditation.
Yoga requires a focused mind that utilizes breath, body awareness, and a total commitment to the moment to perform. This rhythmic synchronization between movement and breath gives this practice a meditative aspect, and it also helps you work up quite a sweat!
Not only will yoga give you the benefits of meditation, it will also increase flexibility, strength, stamina, and balance. When you incorporate meditation into exercise, your whole self wins.
Whether you’re taking a walk around the block or climbing to the top of a trail, walking can be a form of meditation, as long as you remember to stay in the moment.
Mindfulness is the mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment. Instead of letting your mind wander aimlessly as you traverse the world, focus each moment on the individual step you’re taking, breath you’re inhaling or exhaling, or the weight of your body. As you notice thoughts and feelings beginning to distract you from the moment, calmly acknowledge and accepting them and return your attention back to the moment you’re in.
Walking is great for your cardiovascular system, and incorporating mindfulness into your walk will help you reap those extra benefits.
Most people don’t think of lunch time as an opportunity for meditation or mindfulness, but it is! In fact, every meal can be a practice in meditation if you want it to be.
Next time you sit down for a meal or snack, take your time to savor every bite of your meal. Explore every texture, taste, and sensation you feel as you eat. As with walking, don’t let thoughts and feelings about things you need to do later in the day or something that happened in the past distract you. Acknowledge any intruding thoughts, and simply return your attention to your food.
You’ll finish your meal feeling not only full, but more mentally refreshed, clear, and focused.
Being In Nature
There have been a ton of studies as of late about the benefits being in nature has on our minds and mental health. In fact, just 5 minutes in nature is enough for you to start feeling those benefits.
Instead of having lunch at your desk (again), spend your lunch outdoors in a nearby park. On the weekend, take a stroll along the beach or through the hills. You’ll feel more relaxed, improve your mood, and even your self-esteem.
Everyone is different, and that means it’s okay if the kind of meditation your friend likes to do doesn’t work for you. Anyone can benefit from meditation, but you’re way more likely to stick to the practice if you find an activity you like that incorporates it. Try out a few of these for you and see what works.
Let me know in the comments if you have any other activities you’ve found ways to incorporate mindfulness into!
John Kaweske, Colorado resident, has been meditating for years. He finds that the practice helps him with his focus and ability to lead his entrepreneurial ventures. To learn more about his career and life, please visit his main website.