Mention the word meditation and most people picture a Buddhist monk sitting in the lotus position for hours. Thinking of meditation this way can be intimidating and turn off a lot of people. After all meditation is supposed to help you find peace not stress you out, right?
Actually meditation doesn’t have to be boring or complicated. In fact there are some simple activities you can do that provide the same benefits as traditional meditation. Here are five meditation-like activities for people who don’t like to meditate.
Breathing may sound like an odd meditation practice considering we are constantly breathing. The key here is to pay attention and focus on your breathing in a rhythmic way. Start out by sitting comfortably in a straight backed chair with feet flat on the floor (no cross legged lotus position required). Close your eyes and try to relax. Inhale to the count of four and then exhale to the count of four.
Practicing a mindfulness activity on a regular basis can help you deal with those negative, anxious and worrisome thoughts much easier.
Try to breathe more from the diaphragm and stomach rather than the chest. Continue in this manner for five, ten or fifteen minutes; whatever feels good to you. If any thoughts pop into your head, just let them go and refocus on your breath and counting.
Also notice the rhythm of your breath and how your body feels. Feel free to change the count and length of your breaths; just aim for a relaxed comfortable pace.
If sitting still is difficult for you, then try a walking meditation. The idea here is to be mindful of your body’s movement in order to relax and avoid negative thoughts, worry and stress.
Begin by selecting a route for your walk and deciding how long it will be. Even ten minutes around the block can be beneficial. Lace up your walking shoes and go. As you proceed, notice the details of your steps.
Feel your feet make contact with the ground. Notice how your knees bend and your hips pivot. Pay attention to the swinging of your arms and any other bodily sensations. The idea is to focus on the body in order to calm the mind.
If you are religious, prayer can serve as a wonderful meditative activity. Mentally or verbally repeating the inspirational words of a prayer over and over can have a calming effect on the mind.
Repeating a mantra, phrase or affirmation also has the same positive outcome and religious belief is not a prerequisite. Choose words that have meaning for you and are easy to remember. Using a string of prayer beads to touch can help you retain your focus as you recite.
Chanting is similar to prayer or mantra. You may mentally or verbally repeat a word or phrase over and over to help calm your mind. However, the main difference is the emphasis on rhythm. Chant is more or less sung and can be quite musical.
You can make up your own chants or set a prayer to music if you’d like. There are many chanting CD’s and MP3’s available for purchase. Whether you sing along or just listen it can help your mind to relax and reach a meditative state.
5. Painting or Coloring
Painting or coloring can also help release mental chatter and runaway thoughts. Find some old coloring books or a paint by number kit. If you prefer to buy something new and appealing that’s fine too. As you fill in colors, notice the movement of your hand and the strokes of the crayon or paintbrush.
Don’t race to finish the activity, just focus on the coloring itself. The key is to “lose” yourself in the activity. This can work with practically any hobby, so feel free to choose something else that works for you.
Once you find an activity that helps you feel centered try to stick with it. Practicing a mindfulness activity on a regular basis can help you deal with those negative, anxious and worrisome thoughts much easier. Have fun and enjoy working with these “non-meditating” meditations!