We all know we should meditate, but it’s not always as easy as it sounds. For some, meditation can be the opposite of relaxing. It can feel stressful, overwhelming and even cause anxiety.
I know it may sound strange, as meditation is generally associated with a sense of calm and tranquility, but the thought of sitting in one spot (for some) and breathing in and out is a scary thing. Aversion to meditation can be due to a number of factors. One could have asthma, whereas focusing on their breath brings about a sense of uneasiness and anxiety. Or maybe a person has experienced some form of trauma, where sitting still and going inward can cause bad feelings and bring up old wounds (which can feel scary!).
It’s actually not so uncommon.
If this is you … don’t fret. There are other forms of awareness or ‘mindfulness’ practices, as they’re referred to, that can ensure similar results and even get you geared up to embrace the practice of meditation, as daunting as it may seem.
Here are some alternatives to meditation. Some of them you may already do, but now when you experience them again, you’ll have a whole new appreciation for them.
Crocheting or knitting. This is a hobby that is dear to my heart and one that I know induces a meditative state. When I crochet my awareness is on the movement and play between the needle and yarn as well as counting to keep track of where I am in my stitch count (it’s like a mantra). To make it even more intentional, I choose sacred numbers to land on in my patterns, I feel like my crocheted creations are more special that way.
Watching your children. One of the best ways to connect with your child is simply to watch them without interfering in their play. Attention is love. Attention, plus the intention to be present for your child, to show them you care, that they are special, magical and so important, is one of the best gifts you can give your little one. Being in the present moment to witness the innocence at play and their personality shine is enough to make any adult smile (and maybe even secretly shed a tear).
Coloring. Did you know the 6 most purchased books on amazon.com this year were coloring books? Adult coloring books, to be more specific. When we color and create, something magical happens — all else fades away and we become lost between the lines, the back and forth motion of the marker or coloring pencil and in the beauty of the colors themselves. It happened as a child, so why on earth would it not happen as an adult? More and more adults are taking up coloring as an alternative to meditation, to ease stress, to come back to the present moment and maybe even to feel child-like again. Above all, it’s fun!
Being in nature. It’s hard to be in nature and not been fully present with it. It’s all so very captivating; the colors, the creatures and all the life that surrounds; all connected to one another. Recent studies show the effects of experiencing awe while being in nature is anti-inflammatory to the body, meaning nature heals! We are a part of nature and when we are in it, our bodies inadvertently align with the rhythms of mother earth and naturally come back into balance. Being exposed to the elements such as water, air, earth, fire and the sun directly affect our well-being and gently guides us deeper into our awareness and our connection to all things.
Playing and listening to music. Music is one of the gifts bestowed unto humans, and what a joy it is to listen, dance and play! There are some times, and you know what I’m talking about, when it’s ALL about the music. Perhaps you sit back on a comfy sofa and put the volume on bump and soar on the sound waves and vibrations. The bass and the treble and all the intricate instruments take you to another land, or even another galaxy. In fact, since time and space are an illusion, maybe it draws you totally and completely to the present moment. The same goes when you are jammin’ on your favorite instrument and (in my experience) playing music with other musicians and friends. It’s harmonious and one of the greatest ways to connect.
Practice silence. Wisdom is in silence. Peace is in silence. Enlightenment is in the silence between thoughts and one can get more used to sitting in meditation if you first begin with the simple practice of being silent. You’ll notice a few things when you vow to go into silence for an extended period of time. 1. You become less reactive. 2. You become more aware of yourself and your surroundings. 3. You experience deeper gratitude for everything, including the ability to talk and communicate. 4. You notice the ‘signs’ more easily (from your higher self).
Clean with purpose. In the Shaolin Temple, sweeping is one art form that is highly regarded as a form of mindfulness. Instead of making cleaning a chore that you’d rather not do, make it your daily practice of awareness instead. When you wash your dishes, take your time to clean in a careful and graceful way. When you sweep imagine you are sweeping away any dust or stagnation in your own body. Since our homes are an extension of our body, it is an important practice to keep it clean. It makes for better thoughts, health and dreams and is the most basic form of feng shui, which makes energy move more freely in your home (and body).
Practice yoga. Yoga is meditation in motion. Yoga was created to strengthen the body so that sitting down in meditation for long periods of time would be easier and painless. Every movement in yoga should begin with an inhalation or exhalation. And as we all know, the breath is the quickest way to bring us back to the present moment. When you are doing yoga and focusing on yourself, the practice itself and the breath, you are in the present moment and that is mindfulness.
About the author:
Bess O’Connor is the founder of Urban Wellness Magazine. She has studied in many healing traditions, is a Certified Ayurvedic and Holistic Health Practitioner and worked as a Healing Arts Master for the Chopra Center for 8 years. A holistic, natural lifestyle is what she’s all about. To her, WELLNESS is short for: Water, Exercise, Love, Light, Nourishment, Energy, Sun & Spirit. Connect with her on facebook and twitter.