So, how’s your meditation practice going? Oh. Uh-huh, not so good? Been busy? Yep.
Millions of people the world over practice some form of meditation. Scientific research shows that meditation can improve brain function (memory, focus), and decrease depression, anxiety and stress. Meditation increases social connection and best of all it doesn’t cost anything or take too much time. Easy and exciting. Yay!
But you know this and you’re still not meditating because you’ve got one or more of these reasons in your bag (all of us have used these reasons at one point or another).
- It takes too long – you don’t want to sit for hours in a cross legged pose
- Nothing happens when you meditate – nothing stops your mind chatter
- You don’t want to chant OM or do yoga
- You are yearning for inner peace but you don’t believe it will happen for you
- You think you don’t have what it takes to meditate
- It’s too late
I hear you. Meditation is not for everyone.
Meditation is just one way to focus our awareness to gain the ideals of wellness and wisdom.
But there are hundreds of other ways to create well being, inner peace and enlightenment. I have found that the practice of any activity, for example, dance, playing sports, or going for a walk, can create equally delicious benefits as meditating when I am fully engaged and not on auto pilot. When I interact with life in this way, I take note of my environment: the colors, the people around me, the sounds and the “isness” of it all. So juicy!
I, also,consciously pay attention to my senses: smelling, touching, tasting and so on; allowing each sensation to heighten my
experience of the moment. I observe my inner environment: the waves of emotions and thoughts rising and falling as my senses ripple with sensory data creating new synaptic pathways for interpreting life. For me, this is enlightenment at its core me: being awake and using that wakefulness to guide my life.
Being present in life takes practice but it can be a joyful experience. Try these techniques for yourself the next time you want to feel peaceful or need to de-stress, or you wish you could meditate but you just don’t know how.
- Use your senses. Bring yourself into the moment; listen, touch, taste, smell and look around you. Observe what you feel or think. Do you think you can fully engage in the moment you are in or do you feel like you are holding back? Ease up on any judgement or negative thoughts and lean into the moment. Let life flow in.
- Fully immerse yourself in the now. Allow yourself to immerse in whatever activity you are involved in, for example, if you are walking, can you feel your feet hitting the ground? What does it feel like? Experience it fully. For an added bonus: acknowledge the good stuff you are feeling.”I love my afternoon walks. It is so easy to walk and connect to the world around me. I feel so nourished and relaxed. I am so glad I did this.” This kind of self talk reinforces positive associations, and in turn, that activity will begin to move up on the “like” list.
- Dream on. Allow yourself to take it easy every day. Find moments where you can shift gears and dream of fun weekend getaways or tap into fond memories of loved ones. Did you know using your imagination in this way helps to release healing hormones and biochemicals? It can get you into a super, chilled-out zone, or take you to your happy, sweet spot.
- Sleep. The easiest and the most incredible “get in the zone” technique is getting good sleep. My tried and tested technique for getting in the flow is going to bed early, and I mean early i.e. by 8pm. I eat dinner a few hours before my intended bedtime, turn down the lighting to what I call “sunset lighting” which basically means no lights overhead, and gradually slink over to my bed. Once in bed, I turn out the lights and rest until I fall asleep. I do not get out of bed until the morning even if I wake up early.
These are 4 easy options and form the foundation for a much happier, peaceful life without sitting down to meditate.
And remember, you need to practice, practice, practice any or all of these exercises to make being awake/present a habit. Think of the many places, people and situations you can practice being awake and add them to your experiments for enlightenment list. But, most of all, remember to have fun.
In a nutshell, what you are doing is making conscious choices; from breathing to eating to sleeping.
Are you ready to give it a go? See which technique you are drawn to attempting and take notes of what you experience.
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