Seven ways to meditate without meditating
You think you should meditate. Everyone says it helps with anxiety. With depression. With getting through life with little kids. You’ve done it from time to time. It was great.
But you just can’t seem to make time for it on any sort of regular basis.
Meditation can be defined in some levels as narrowing your focus from tons of outside stimuli to one thing. But rather than sitting still and watching your thoughts, a common meditation goal, there are other things you can do.
Why does meditation help?
“Increasing your ability to focus can foster creativity, promote problem-solving skills and decrease the stress associated with handling more than one task at once.”–Gaiam, the company whose logo may be on your yoga mat.
“Meditation can help lessen the effect of (Generalized Anxiety Disorder) by training one to focus on the present moment, thus keeping minds off fears. Meditating on a regular basis can result in significant, long-term reduction of anxiety.”–Andrew Weil, M.D.
“Brooding is a key feature of depression. In mentally healthy people, sad thoughts pass quite quickly but in people who suffer from depression they don’t. (Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy) tackles brooding and teaches people to be more compassionate to themselves and others.”–Mark Williams, professor of clinical psychology at the University of Oxford
How can you meditate without meditating?
Meditation usually calls for a person to sit in a quiet place, without moving, and focus on one thing, maybe it’s observing your thoughts as they come and go or paying attention to your breath. It feels solitary, though there is often a multiplier effect if you’re in a class of meditators.
Still, it’s not so easy to fit this into the average busy life.
Taking the idea that meditation’s job is to draw your focus into one place, to break your mind of the habit of jumping from one worrying or judgmental thought to the next, there are lots of other activities that can offer the same pointed focus that has shown to benefit our health.
Puzzles: Tackle a jigsaw puzzle. You have to focus on shapes and colors and the benefit of seeing a picture begin to unfold keeps you focused and interested.
Coloring: Adult coloring books have really come into light these past few years. The idea is similar to puzzles. You see shapes and colors and the focus you use to see a black and white picture take on life will keep your mind in one place.
Walking: Get out of your home, where you have a lot of reminders for stress. Nature will automatically work to slow your mind.
Watching a fire or candle: Yes, this is just sitting, but it does give you a physical representation of something that can keep you focused. Whether it’s a built-in response, as suggested in this article, it’s one of the most relaxing things we can do.
Watching the stars: Another sitting activity, this one also gets you in touch with nature and also reminds us where we are in the universe. I like this take on stargazing and its effects on our mood.
Organizing and cleaning: GRR, not that this is so enjoyable. But I have to admit, sometimes I love it. Again, it’s about focusing your mind on what you’re doing. Be in the moment. “If you’re washing the dishes, wash the dishes.”
Rock or boulder climbing: At a gym on a climbing wall or out in the world, having to find a place to wedge your fingers and toes while you try not to slip backwards, believe it or not, has a beautifully meditative result. It doesn’t have to be cliff-side either. A boulder-covered trail or a rocky outcropping can be just enough to have you shut out the rest of the world and move forward, one hand and foot at a time.
What about you? How do you meditate without meditating and draw your focus to a single point? Will you be giving one of these a try?