Meditation is such a beautiful practice; it gives incredible peace and insight. Through meditation we come to know our true selves, find clarity when our next step is unclear, and feel connected to the greater energy at work.
But sometimes no matter how hard we try, and perhaps even the harder we try, the mind is still tangled up in thoughts.
If sitting in lotus and trying to empty your mind simply doesn’t work for you (and it just may someday), try one of these three alternative meditations for people who hate meditation.
They slow down the pattern of excessive thinking and invite in a more calm, streamlined mental state.
1. Breath like Darth Vader
You’ve probably practiced ujjayi pranayama (victorious breath) in vinyasa yoga classes. It’s that audible, snoring, Darth Vader-like breath that teachers have us employ while flowing through sun salutations and warrior poses. But ujjayi isn’t just for vinyasa class.
There are many ways to meditate, but one of the most common is through sensory immersion.
For example, you might pick a rose as your object of meditation. With closed eyes you’d trace your vision over each and every petal of the rose; you’d imagine its scent, and even the softness of each petal. With your senses so engrossed in this single object the thought process becomes streamlined and focused, leading to a meditative state.
Ujjayi gives us a similar way to approach meditation. When you practice ujjayi, you can not only hear the breath but you can feel the breath gently tracing through the throat.
Focusing the senses on the breath simplifies the thought process. Plus, ujjayi has a naturally tranquilizing effect on the mind as it mimics deep sleep.
To use ujjayi as an alternative to meditation, sit comfortably or even lie on the floor (just don’t fall asleep!). Contract your throat slightly and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose, creating a soft snoring sound. Exhale slowly and deeply through your nose in the same way. Continue this practice for 5 minutes.
2. Walk barefoot
That’s right, walk barefoot.
Meditation and its alternatives need not be complicated. As long as the goal is to focus the mind, how we get there can be super simple. In this practice we’ll kick off our shoes, peel away our socks, and connect to the earth with our barefeet.
Find a nice grassy patch whether it’s in your yard or a park. Coastal dwellers can head to the beach. Stand with your bare feet planted firmly in the earth. Take a few natural breaths. Just feel.
Then go for a slow walk. Keep your attention on the soles of your feet. Feel the sensations of your skin against the grass, how the blades fold underneath you, the coolness of the earth, perhaps its softness or roughness.
If you’re in the sand, notice the grains filling between your toes as your weight compacts the shore beneath you, massaging the soles of your feet.
Enjoy your slow walk. Continue for 5 minutes or so with your mind immersed in your connection to the earth.
Carl Jung once said ,“When you walk with naked feet, how can you ever forget the earth?” and he was oh-so-right.
We’re quick to lose our connection to mother nature when we live in cities, work in sun-deprived offices, and drive around in metal boxes. So when we reconnect to nature, we feel more like ourselves.
Our mind becomes more peaceful and focuses effortlessly, making a barefoot walk the perfect alternative to traditional meditation.
3. Do what you love and do it fully
As walking barefoot proves, nearly any activity can become a sort of meditation. Just do what you love and do it fully and mindfully.
If you love to swim, get in the water and be present as you glide along. Savor the water passing through your fingers, the bubbles tickling your nose, the silky feeling against your skin. Rather than letting your mind wander, keep it focused on your swim.
The same method can be used for any endeavor. Whether you love to dance, draw, or run, let it be a practice of observation and feeling rather than one of multitasking; i.e. solving problems or planning the rest of your day.
You can even turn activities that you might not particularly enjoy into a kind of meditation, like doing the dishes or scrubbing the tub. Wash those plates with full attention. Scrub that tub with clear focus.
Not only will time go by quickly, but your mind will become more peaceful simply by streamlining its focus.
The same technique can even be applied to eating. Savor each mouthful. Try to identify the sour, sweet, salty, pungent and bitter flavours. Observe textures and temperatures. Engross your thoughts in the present.dance love
Before you dismiss meditation, try one of these practices! Even those who hate meditation will find that they’re fun and bring a peaceful, calming effect to the mind.
For more Meditation and Yoga inspiration, check out the blog of Zenward, The School of True Yoga. If you’re looking for to start or continue on your yoga journey anytime, anywhere, discover more here.