Can't Meditate? Try These 5 Mindful Practices Instead
Can’t keep still long enough to take meditation seriously? You don’t have to sit in silence to find inner peace.
If “omming” isn’t your thing, there are other ways to experience calm in your life.
Taking time out of your busy schedule to be with yourself is an important part of staying healthy, happy, and sane. But if “omming” isn’t your thing or you're too anxious to sit still with your eyes closed, there are other ways to experience calm in your life. “But remember to unplug the computer, turn your phone off, and claim your personal space,” says Soraya Saraswati, Australian international writer, speaker, and facilitator of mindfulness and music meditation. Here, Saraswati shares her favorite meditations in action:
1. Walking meditation
Forget the headphones and fast-pace walking. There is no destination in mind when it comes to walking meditation, and it’s best to avoid tight time restrictions or deadlines. This is simply strolling mindfully, noticing the environment around you, allowing thoughts to flow in and out of your mind.
If you're on the beach, feel the sand under your feet, listen to the waves hypnotically rolling into the shoreline, and inhale the cleansing, salty air. For a forest or nature walk, let the trees enthral you and notice the simplicity and beauty of the flowers. Let your senses come alive with smell, color, touch, and sound.
2. Mandala drawing or coloring
Adult coloring is a meditative craze sweeping the planet. Especially popular are mandalas, used by ancient cultures such as Tibetan monks who create sand mandalas as a form of meditation. Mandalas are circular patterns based on sacred geometry, often spiraling out from a central point in attractive patterns.
A study from San Francisco State University found that people who participated in creative activities outside of work could not only deal with stress more efficiently, but they perform better at work too. Get out your colored pencils and let your inner artist loose. Let the mind focus on shape and color, as thoughts fade naturally, allowing a sense of relaxation to arise.
3. Watching a sunset or sunrise
Depending on whether you’re an early riser or prefer the peace of the evening, sitting quietly while gazing at nature’s magnificent colors of an early morning sunrise or tranquil sunset can transport us to a peaceful mind space. Each morning offers the freshness of beginning our life anew, and the evening can bring an opportunity to rebalance after a long day.
Nature in its very essence is pure — demanding nothing. When absorbing these moments, the mind effortlessly becomes quiet and peaceful.
4. Listening to relaxation music
Music is emotive and can make us laugh, smile, or even cry. Research in music therapy has found that music can help us deal with stress and ultimately relax. As we are lying still or sitting comfortably and focusing our awareness on relaxation or meditation, music can transport us to a mindless state of peaceful heart connection.
So, next time you find yourself alone, pop on your favorite Mozart, meditation, or easy-listening music, and tune in to the calming world of sound. If thoughts appear, refocus on the music itself and the vibration of sound in and around the body.
Thought you hated pulling weeds? Gardening — and even weeding — can become a meditation in action. The key is mindfulness. Continually check that you're not on autopilot, and if thoughts come into your mind, shift your attention back to your physical contact with the plant world.
Become acutely aware of the plants you're working with by engaging the senses, the color and fragrance of the flowers, the sound of the birds in your garden. Some people find gardening barefoot helps them feel “grounded” and connected to the earth. Don’t hurry or rush; relax into the atmosphere of your garden.
It is nearly impossible to silence the mind completely, so it’s normal to have thoughts during meditation. If you find yourself looping a particular thought, shift your focus back to your bodily senses. Thoughts may drift through the mind, but don't fight them. In active meditation, take yourself back to the task at hand, surrendering to the moment and immersing yourself in your environment. With practice, the stillness and quietness of your meditation will start to come naturally.