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Let’s get straight to the point: meditation is overrated. And for some people, feeling like they “should” meditate is causing them to feel like they’re sub-par or not doing enough.
Studies that highlight meditation’s benefits talk about the proof that the parts of our brains in charge of happiness or relaxation are stimulated through meditation. So are the parts of our brain that are associated with feeling a sense of unity with something greater than ourselves.
People who love traditional seated meditation—and I’m one of them—talk about how peaceful it is, how nourishing it is, and how much easier life is now that they meditate. The ups and downs just don’t seem so exhausting or overwhelming anymore. We sit down to find stillness and peace and even enormous love within ourselves and then we find that in our daily life, too.
But that doesn’t mean that this kind of meditation is for everyone. At its essence, meditation is uniting with the universe. It’s about finding the universal self within and feeling and becoming it. Our soul radiates out and ignites our heart, mind and body. Our cells are nourished by grace.
Sharon Gannon, co-founder of Jivamukti Yoga says that we can’t make ourselves meditate; we can only make ourselves concentrate. Actual bona fide meditation happens spontaneously.
Let’s just sit with that for a second: Actual bona fide meditation happens spontaneously.
Yes. That feeling of unity, of radiance, joy and a deeply peaceful energized state of being happens spontaneously—as a result of concentration. In this case, we can consider mindfulness synonymous with concentration; they can be used interchangeably here.
And, better yet, they can be taken off the floor and out of our cross-legged position and into anything at all that we love to do. Anything!
Anything can become our meditation. Because meditation does not mean sitting cross-legged on the floor trying to make our mind be still and blank. At its most basic, meditation means feeling a state of general relaxation, ease, and peaceful radiance. And we get there through concentration or mindfulness—paying conscious attention to what we can sense around us.
So if sitting cross-legged on the floor trying to still your mind is causing you stress instead of relaxation, ease, and peaceful radiance, please don’t beat yourself up. We live in a fast-paced world filled with sensory stimulation. We’re asking a lot of ourselves to suddenly be able to sit very still and feel quiet and peaceful.
On the other hand, lots of people I talk to tell me—usually sort of sheepishly, like they’re afraid of what people might think—that they feel like they meditate when they do something else. Jogging, bouncing a soccer ball from one foot to the other, skiing, walking in nature, swimming in the ocean, dancing... Yes!
All of these activities can become your meditation. Because while they’re doing these things they’re doing them mindfully and feeling more relaxed, more at ease, and usually entering a state of peaceful radiance. Absolutely.
Meditation is happening spontaneously. Anything at all can become your meditation. Because you can do anything at all mindfully.
9 Things that can Become Your Meditation
4. Playing a musical instrument
6. Kicking around a soccer ball
9. Walking by the ocean
What else? Add to the list in the comments below!