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We hear it all the time:
“The Number One way to reduce stress is to Meditate”
And it’s true. And for many of us (me included) mediation is HARD, if not down right painful. The idea of sitting quietly for even 2 minutes can be down right fear inducing!! So while yes, meditating has amazing health benefits both physical and mental it is also just not a realistic possibility for some of us right now and that is OK. The goal of meditation is to bring you back into your body so you can hear your wise voice. The more you can ground yourself in the present moment..the more you can reduce your reactivity in life. So if the idea of sitting in silence for any period of time is anxiety inducing, check out these other possibilities.
Walking meditation: The Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh talks about a walking meditation (even wrote a book about it). Which is simply slowly walking and coordinating your breath with your steps. You can walk on the street, on a labyrinth or in your living room.
Light a candle: I personally engage in this meditation in my office. Light a candle and focus on the flame. As you focus on the flame, notice your breath and your body. Simply pay attention.
Eating Meditation: With each bite of food you take slow down and pay attention. Slowly chew, slowly swallow, slowly taste. What flavors do you taste? How does the food feel in your mouth?
Find your Crayons: You don’t have to be a child to color. Coloring naturally narrows your focus and slows your breathing. Using crayons, colored pencils or markers, grab your favorite coloring book and start coloring.
5 senses: This is another one of my favorites. Wherever you are take a breath and do an inventory of your 5 senses. In the moment, what do you see? What do you feel?What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you smell? This meditation brings you immediately in the present moment. I practice this in the car, in the store and in my office.
Use a Mantra: If you want to try ‘traditional meditation’ repeat a phrase in your mind. Set your timer, close your eyes and repeat a calming word or phrase. As your mind wanders keep coming back to the phrase.
Starfish: A client of mine told me about this meditation. Simply sprawl on the floor like a starfish and notice your surroundings. Notice how you feel, what you see etc.
Guided Meditation: One of the only ways I can successfully mediate is through a guided meditation. There are many many out there that walk you through the process.
Use your Breath: There are many meditations using your breath. One of my favorites is simple 3 deep breaths. You can also do inhale to a 4 count, hold for 7 and exhale to a count of 8 and repeat 4 times.
All of these are wonderful ways to bring you back to the present moment. Gradually practice doing 5 minutes, 10 minutes or 20 minutes of one of these practices. Reconnecting with self, reconnecting with your body, reconnecting with your wisdom.
Thanks to Buddhist Boot Camp for the hilarious (and accurate) portrayal of meditation.
I would love to hear from you in the comments: Do you struggle with mediation? Have you found any ways to meditate that aren’t considered ‘traditional’?