Are you yearning to reap the benefits of a meditation practice, but intimidated by the act of sitting still? Meditation is a simple, effortless process for some—but it can feel like an overwhelming chore for others.
The good news is that there are many ways you can cultivate a state of peaceful awareness that don’t involve seated meditation. Try one of these alternative activities to practice mindfulness—and enjoy the focus, clarity, and peace that follows.
Head Outside for a Walk
Nature and exercise are both prescriptions for improved health and well-being. Henry David Thoreau made a good point when he said, “I took a walk in the woods and came out taller than the trees.” It’s because nature feels good. It nourishes our body, mind, and spirit.
Find a walk or hike near you. Try searching AllTrails to find a new route to explore. As you walk, bring awareness to your breath as you move. Notice the sensations in your body, observe how your heart rate increases on hills, and watch your calves engage as you descend.
Notice every detail of your surroundings: the colors, the plants and trees, the rhythm and pace of your movements, and your feet as they hit the ground in a cyclical manner. Take it all in without distraction.
Instead of gardening to music, try to cultivate a quiet, mindful state of being as you work in the garden. If you can keep your mind focused on paying attention to what you’re doing—the sensations of your hands in the dirt, the breeze across your face, the smell of the incoming basil, and your breath as you move, you can turn your gardening session into a mindfulness practice.
Color Between the Lines
There’s a new craze in the world of mindfulness called coloring for adults. Adult coloring books market themselves as providing hours of relaxation, stress relief, creative expression, and a mindful state of being. Plus, it sounds like a fun way to play like a child again.
Put on some good music (preferably upbeat and without words), close your eyes, and allow your body to move freely. Try using an open space like the yard, living room, or basement, and dance like no one’s watching because, well, no one’s watching. And because it feels good.
There are many ways to move your body in a mindful way; it just requires some focus and awareness to merge awareness and physical exercise. Try running, jumping rope, tai chi, or other aerobic exercises while following these tips to integrate mindfulness into your exercise program.
Also a way to stretch your body and get some exercise, yoga is the way many people find meditation. In the physical practice of yoga, it’s easier to focus on the body first and use that focus as a way to tame your monkey mind.
Find a yoga class near you, tune into an online yoga video, or move through a yoga sequence to strengthen your core or poses to wake you up in the morning. Allow your body and breath to lead your mind as you move from pose to pose.
Play an Instrument
Playing music is an incredible creative outlet. And you don’t have to be talented to enjoy it. In fact, if you aren’t serious with an instrument, it can serve as a great mindfulness exercise because you have no objective other than to play.
If you already play an instrument, just spend some time with it and zone everything else out. Make this a session in mindfulness, rather than perfecting a song or writing something new that others would enjoy.
If you don’t already play an instrument, pick up one of these instruments that require little-to-no knowledge to begin:
- Singing Bowl
- Your voice
Remember, the purpose isn’t to win over an audience—it’s to focus your attention on the present moment as you create rhythm, melody, and sound.
Enjoy a Sunset
There isn’t a more present feeling than watching the sun slip behind a cloud or past the horizon. Aside from its natural beauty, the sunset is also a brilliant reminder that each and every day offers us a new end and a new beginning.
Get lost in the vibrant colors and spirit of the sunset, and take Mother Nature’s advice that the rest of your to-do list can wait until morning.