When I recommend meditation to my stressed-out friends, they often open their eyes wide and scrunch up their nose.
“You mean, sit for an hour and think about nothing? I don’t think I can.”
I understand. When you think of meditation, the first image that comes to mind is probably a yogi, sitting with a straight spine in front of a peaceful lake, fingertips touching.
But in reality, meditation can be a much broader practice.
For beginners, and even for folks who are used to having a spiritual practice, I always recommend meditations of simple mindfulness rather than a classic seated meditation.
Here are 12 of my favorite things to do mindfully:
- Trying the 100 breaths technique.
This is a highly complex meditation technique! I take 100 breaths. I count them. I try not to think about anything else. Yup. It’s revolutionary. And it also really works for me. It gives my brain something to do (wee! counting!) while the rest of me is just hanging out, inadvertently meditating.
- Listening to music.
Try to hear every instrument in the band. Separate the lyrics from the melody—listen to something instrumental, if you can. Sing along, and feel your body vibrate with the hum of sound.
Get ready to boogie—meditation just got a soundtrack! Most people, at one time or another, have put on some tunes and cut the rug to chill out after a tough day. Dance or kundalini meditation takes that release one step further by asking participants to let go of the ego and surrender to the rhythms and ecstasies of movement.
I imagine that, like me, you drink something every morning. Instead of just tossing it down like a shot at the bar, drink it slowly.
- Doing yoga.
The practice alone will bring about a beautiful sense of presence in your life.
- Taking a walk.
A slow one. Like, really slow. Inhale and lift your foot, exhale and plant it. Repeat. For more: Walking Meditation
- Creating art.
The practice of painting, or drawing, or sewing, or gluing magazine strips to paper is incredibly meditative. Set aside a bit of time for art, and as you work, make sure that you’re truly there with your project.
Keeping a diary or journal is a great mindful practice. Mindful journaling is slightly different from your typical journal. When writing in a diary people typically record and reflect on the events they experienced that day. Mindful journaling is specifically used as a tool for reflection and growth. Writing with pen and paper keeps you from becoming distracted by the Internet. It also helps keep your mind sharp by improving motor-skills and memory. It can also help you further connect with your words and feelings.
- Repeating a phrase.
Repeating a phrase either in your head or out loud can be extremely meditative — that’s why in religious practices repetition of memorized verses or mantras is pretty universal. “Ohm” is a classic, but any kind of repetition can work. Try saying something, even a single word, for a minute in your head and see how it feels. For more: Mantra Meditation
This is one of my favorites. Cooking can be an incredibly powerful act of meditation. Grind your own spices, chop vegetables with a smile, and put love into your pot.
Not only is eating mindfully a simple and delightful act, but it’s much healthier than shoveling food down while you’re running to your next meeting. Take time to feel the temperature of your food with your fingers, feel the texture, smell all of the ingredients. Be there with your food before you eat.
- Use the alarm clock meditation.
Set a timer. Then meditate until the timer goes off. This way, you don’t have to wonder about how long it’s been, or how much longer you should meditate for. It’s like meditation on cruise-drive.
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