If you’ve ever thought that meditation wasn’t for you for whatever reason, you may be surprised to find out that you’ve been practicing it all along. While traditional meditation in a monastery does entail sitting in the lotus position for long periods of time, it’s not the only method. Even monks practice meditation in different ways like when they’re eating or doing medial chores.
The rule of thumb is that you focus on something, breathe with intention and quiet your busy mind. Many of us do this from time to time and tend to label it “zoning out” when in reality, we were in meditation. Your favorite past times are an opportunity for you to meditate and because you’re doing what you like to do, you’re in a good headspace to let your busy mind go.
With so many articles online and health reports telling you the benefits of meditation, you are probably convinced it’s a good practice for you. The mental and physical benefits are many. You want to benefit from the elevated mood boost it can give you, an increase in productivity, get a better sleep and nurture your heart health. The perks of meditation can be yours while doing what you love to do. In keeping your meditation practice simple and personal for you, it will be easier and more identifiable for you.
Here are some practices to try if you don’t want to try if you’re not into the traditional methods.
Multiple studies have shown that playing a hand drum, especially in group settings, gives us many of the same benefits as mindfulness meditation.
Drumming increases problem solving ability and empathy. It boosts the immune system and reduces stress. It also helps improve school grades and good behavior in children. In some settings, drumming is used to treat ADHD. Studies suggest that it may work better than Prozac or Ritalin when used for ADHD and depression.
Drumming is itself a meditation technique. The key is to become deeply absorbed in the rhythm and the sensations you feel in your hands and elsewhere. You might find it hard to sit in half-lotus and concentrate during a breathing meditation. Drumming, on the other hand, has a powerful way of holding your attention so it doesn’t feel like a chore.
Watching a sunset
You’ve probably watched sunsets before, right? Have you ever just melted in awe? You likely had no problem concentrating then. One of the feelings I’ve experienced while watching sunsets and sunrises is love. It seemed to be the magic glue that connected me with the sun. It was like a prolonged hug.
In many ways, meditation mirrors falling in love. You’re paying full attention to each other. It’s hard not to concentrate on your experience with that person. During meditation, you are merging with your chosen object and experiencing that same type of merging. Plus, research shows that awe reduces our inflammatory markers, which are associated with cardiac and autoimmune disorders.
Gazing at a campfire
If you’re in the position to have a fire pit in your yard, do it. If you’re not allowed to dig holes, you can use a feeding trough from a farming supplies store. Or if you live near the outdoors, go camping.
Like sunsets, camp fires have a powerful meditative effect. The wood crackles as the fire roars and consumes the wood. You can feel the heat on your body. All of these aspects hit your senses and has a way of pulling you in. I find fire gazing to have a very purifying effect on my mind.
Many people find relaxation while pulling weeds and nurturing their spinach, broccoli, basil and tomatoes in their gardens. If you make the intent to really pay attention to what you’re doing, then gardening becomes a form of meditation.
You can concentrate on the feeling of your knees on the ground, the sensations in your hands and the feeling of your breath. You can also thank every single plant that you work with for providing you with healthy food. Now you’re mixing meditation with gratitude work.
Going for a Walk
If you hang out in a cubicle all day or sit in front of a computer a lot, going out for short a walk can become a meditation. The same goes for jogging, dancing and other forms of exercise.
When walking, pay attention to your breath and the sensations of your body. Be mindful of your feet hitting the ground in a rhythmic pattern.
Meera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others. She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International, a yoga teacher training school based in Singapore. Siddhi Yoga runs intensive, residential trainings in India (Rishikesh, Goa and Dharamshala), Indonesia (Bali) and Malaysia (Kuala Lumpur).