When you’re anxious or depressed, sometimes the last thing you feel like doing is sitting down with your thoughts. But what many of us don't realize is that we don't have to sit still to meditate!
We can be just as mindful in movement by making some of our activities a meditation as well. So if you're having trouble sitting in half-lotus and opening that third eye of yours, try these active alternatives that may heighten your awareness and bring clarity to your mind.
1. Turn your daily stroll into a mindful walk by moving with intention.
Whenever possible, walk in a place where you’re making a connection with nature. Focus your attention on your breath as you start to walk, noticing where your breath is in your body, and then taking that breath deeper into your lungs.
Next, bring awareness to your body by taking notice of your feet making contact with the earth. Pay attention to how the breeze feels on your skin. Now listen, look around you, and try to name everything that you see. The simple act of stopping to take notice of everything around you will keep your attention grounded in the present.
2. Quiet the chatter in your mind by going for a therapeutic swim.
There is a natural meditative quality to swimming. It is partly the therapeutic power of water, but the repetitive stretching and releasing of muscles that happens as you swim will help to evoke a sense of relaxation in the body.
Pay close attention to how the water feels on your skin as your hands and legs propel you forward. You might like to try adding in a mantra as you swim, by repeating the word release to help liberate your mind from its incessant train of thought.
3. Embrace a primordial mind-body connection through the power of dance.
Dance therapy has been used for centuries across the globe as part of traditional healing practices. Any form of dance helps to connect the mind and body and in turn, reduce anxiety.
Dance classes are a great way to start. Meditative and creatively expressive, the wide-range of rhythms helps connect you with your emotions, building self-awareness and helping you to make peace with whatever feelings arise. Of course you could always just crank up the stereo at home or go out dancing with a group of friends, too!
4. Practice yoga! It's the oldest trick in the book.
One of the most long-favored forms of moving meditation is yoga. Like tai chi and qi gong, yoga helps to bring about a mind-body connection through gentle and focused movement, while deepening the connection to your breath.
If you're new to yoga, try a few different styles first, to see which method best suits you. Always remember that yoga is not about comparing yourself with others, or trying to perfect a pose — think of it more as a moving meditation and time to be with yourself.
5. Chant or sing to your heart's content!
It’s almost impossible to listen to a worried or anxious mind when you’re chanting, especially in a yoga class. Discover the music and hymns, Sanskrit or whatnot, that resonate with you the most.
Find a space in your home or attend a yoga or meditation class, where you can freely turn up the volume of your voice, and really put your heart and soul into it. And if chanting isn’t your thing, you’ll get just as much benefit from singing along to one of your favorite songs.