I’m going to start off by saying that title might be slightly misleading. The activities I’m going to talk about could potentially be considered meditating depending on who you ask. A better way to describe them might be ‘5 ways to meditate in a non-traditional sense of meditation’. But that title doesn’t quite roll off the tongue.
Anyway, I’m hoping by being upfront with you that you’ll let this one slide.
Meditation has become quite mainstream the last couple of years, and I’m going to guess that most of you have heard of its benefits or at least that it is beneficial. Maybe meditation is one of your 2018 goals/resolutions, but you’re not sure where to start. Or if you’re like me, you may have started out feeling intimidated by meditation.
Unsure of how to get started.
Unsure of even how to do it, or if you are ‘doing it correctly’.
Feeling discouraged if you can’t find that ‘zen’ you think you should be experiencing.
You’re not alone.
On the other hand, maybe you have a rockin’ meditation practice that you love, but you’re looking for more meditative activities to incorporate in your life that mimics the feeling, benefits, and emotions you get when you are in your meditative practice.
Enter this post.
While there are great guided meditation apps, videos and websites out there that are great places to start (and I’m in no way insulting them, saying they don’t work, or encouraging you not to use them – I personally use them), there are other ways to meditate that don’t look like the traditional meditation practice.
If you think about what happens when you meditate, you usually think of having no thoughts or letting your thoughts float by and focusing on one thing – often your breath or a voice if you’re using guided meditation. There are many activities that can provide the same response. The reason these activities act like a meditation practice is that often they require the brain to focus so carefully on the task at hand that it doesn’t allow other thoughts to enter, or the thoughts enter float by, leaving you feeling relaxed and peaceful.
The activities below can work well with kids, for at work, during ‘me’ time, and more. There are no excuses NOT to do at least one. So if meditation is something you want to try but not sure how, or you want to incorporate more meditative activities into your life to achieve similar benefits, check out these 5 ways to meditate without actually meditating:
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Walking can be a great form of alternative meditation (or you can meditate while you are walking). Not only are you getting a nice endorphin release which makes you feel great, you can really put your focus towards whatever it is you want. Plus, if you’re outside, you get all the wonderful benefits of being in nature. To really get the most out of your walking meditation, while you’re walking, focus on four senses: what do you see, what do you hear, what do you feel, what do you smell. This can really help clear your mind! It works for running as well.
You’ve heard of people who get their million dollar ideas while taking a shower, right? There’s probably a good reason for that. When we’re in the shower, a few things are going on. First, the water – the feel and sound of it, is relaxing. Second, we’re usually focused on shampooing our hair, washing, shaving, whatever, so our thoughts aren’t competing with each other. Third, we (often) have minimal outside distractions, so we can actually put time into our thoughts and emotions. If you are feeling stuck on a project, stressed or anxious, try hoping in the shower.
[Insert Favorite Hobby Here]
Have you ever had a hobby (or you have one now) that when you’re fully immersed in it you lose all track of time? Photography and gardening are like that for me. When you find a hobby or activity like this, you are able to give your entire focus to that specific task. This is a great way to calm your mind and reduce any stress and anxiety. Additionally, you’ll get the added bonus of doing something you love doing! Take some time each week to devote to your favorite hobby. Feel like you don’t have the time? Check out my post on the hidden secret to scheduling ‘me’ time here, and my post on 4-quilt free ways to say no (in order to say yes to a life you love) here.
Doing a Puzzle
If you’re a big fan of doing puzzles (or at least have done one before in your life), you may recall that while you were actively working on the puzzle, you probably weren’t thinking about much else. When you are working on a puzzle, whether it be jigsaw, sudoku or a word find, you are usually focused on one thing – the puzzle pieces/numbers/words/etc – which makes this a great non-meditation meditative activity. Puzzles and puzzle books can easily be found at second-hand stores to help cut down on waste. Or ask friends/family if they have any you could borrow or have! If neither of those are an option, here are a couple of fun ones I found:
Coloring has become an extremely popular form of relaxation for adults, and for good reason. The benefits of coloring include an increased state of meditation and mindfulness, reduced stress and anxiety, and more (read more about the benefits here). Not only do you get lots of wonderful mental benefits, it is fun, easy to do and relatively inexpensive to get started. If you have kids, this can be something you do together (be sure to check out my kids mindfulness coloring pages here – the packet includes a bonus page for adults!). While it might not be as 100% stress-free as if you were doing it on your own, you still can experience similar benefits.
If you need a couple of other ideas, here are a few other non-meditation meditative activities:
- Arts/Crafts (painting, knitting, drawing, etc)
Last but not least, if you are interested in meditation but not where to start, I would highly recommend my 2-minute guided mindfulness meditations. These meditations use a nature photograph as a guide and consist of a few easy to follow prompts.