I feel you.
Meditation can be exceedingly challenging for some of us. It’s incredibly hard to direct our thoughts in a way that helps us clear out minds. Being still is the opposite of calming. I know it comes naturally for some, but that ain’t me, and if you’re reading this, it’s probably not you.
So let’s redefine meditation. Let’s make it something we look forward to and really find value in
Traditionally, meditation is done in a quiet room. The practitioner takes a comfortable seat, closes their eyes, and clears their mind. Mantras and chants can and often are a part of the equation. Dim lighting, no distractions, and comfortable clothing are paramount. Sometimes, it’s a guided meditation taking us on an internal journey.
You’ve tried all of it. And you’ve tried again. It’s not clicking and you wonder if you simply can’t meditate. You peek at others in the room seemingly enjoying their own experience and appearing to not struggle in the least. You feel like a failure and trend towards thinking meditation just isn’t for you. It’s so easy to buy into these thoughts, but they’re simply untrue.
Let’s throw out tradition and get to the heart of what meditation offers us:
- peaceful feelings
- the ability to be present
- stress reduction
For those of us whom more traditional meditation practices don’t quite land, let’s think way outside the box about what a meditative practice can be. What alternate types of meditation practices besides sitting in silence can offer all of these benefits?
1. Try a walking meditation
Take a walk. It can be in the woods, on the beach, or even just around your neighborhood. Focus on your breath and surroundings. Make a conscious effort to notice everything around you. The wind, cracks in the road, leaves on the trees, the song of the birds overhead. Drink it in and let yourself absorb your surroundings. Count your steps. Focus your drishti. Choose positive thoughts. Take deep, aware breaths.
2. Meditate in a crowded space
It could be a coffee shop, library, train station, or even your workplace. Find the least conducive to meditation environment you can. If you can find a calming energy and peaceful feeling even with eight-seven distracting things happening all around you, then you’re really onto something. The meditation here is all about blocking out the noise and finding focus amidst chaos. Even if you can find it for a moment, that’s really something. Use the tools at your disposal. Breath, Making the choice to not look up or all around everytime a new noise arrives at the scene. When you learn to block the noise, a truly incredible thing happens. You stop hearing it. It ceases having power over you. You can feel serenity anywhere.
3. Practice meditation via conversation
Have you ever noticed your listening abilities evaporating when you’re talking with someone and there’s a feeling of disconnect? You can change that by applying meditative properties to every conversation. Whether you’re talking with someone you really vibe with or someone you have trouble connecting to, the same meditation principles align. Practice self-study, svadhyaya, as a means of witnessing not just the other person with whom you are participating in dialogue, but yourself being present, open, compassionate, and more aware than you were moments before.
4. Create a daily mantra
This one is SO much fun! If you like to write, then write it down. If that’s not your jam, mentally create one and come back to it over and over throughout the day, revisiting your chosen meditation. Use a bracelet or crystal to help you remember to come back to it throughout the day. Today, I’m working with, “Cultivate listening by utilizing economy of words.” I talk a lot, so today, I choose to listen more, therefore talking less and fostering this as my meditation. Tomorrow I’ll choose something different to focus on, but this meditation will stay with me.
Once we broaden the scope of how we view meditation, everything starts to show up as a meditation opportunity. This in no way negates the incredible value of more traditional meditation practices. But if your resistance to that is strong, begin here and stay here as long as the value continues to surface for you. It might decrease your feelings of opposition, and if it doesn’t, that’s really okay. As long as we each find ways to cultivate awareness and a reduction in our stress levels, our meditation practice only needs to speak to us.
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