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8 Unconventional Meditations For A Busy Lifestyle

8 Unconventional Meditations For A Busy Lifestyle

You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” – Old Zen adage

What’s the most common excuse you make as to why you don’t meditate? If you’re like most people, it’s time.

Meditation takes time – precious minutes that most of us perceive ourselves not to have. However, this is only an issue if you perceive meditation in a super-traditional sense. For example, you must meditate for an hour each day, in complete silence, in a sitting position. We think of ancient sages sitting cross-legged, eyes closed, serenely zoning out beneath an old beautiful tree. Who has time for that? This idealized image is certainly discouraging, considering the pace of our modern day-to-day life.

But if we were to suspend all preconceived notions about what meditation is, and what a “successful” meditator looks like, we could break through that stale barrier of “not enough time.” Here are a few unconventional meditations for a busy lifestyle.

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1. The Board Meeting Meditation

We don’t often associate meditation with productivity, but a Japanese study suggests that we may want to start. The findings of the study, conducted by the Kyoto Convention Bureau, showed that 10-minute meditations before work meetings led to better concentration and an increased ability to absorb new information. So plowing right through your meeting may not actually be the best way to get things done. Doing a brief meditation in your office, or even a collective meditation at the beginning of a meeting will ensure information is

So plowing right through your meeting may not actually be the best way to get things done. Doing a brief meditation in your office, or even a collective meditation at the beginning of a meeting will ensure information is
better understood and remembered.

2. The Lunchtime Leisure Meditation

Do you ever find yourself talking or worrying about work on your lunch breaks? This can barely be considered a true break. Instead of working straight through lunch or rushing out to meet a friend for gossip, try eating your lunch more mindfully.

Turn off your phone, sit somewhere with a decent view, and simply eat – or adopt a mindful journaling practice during this time. While your mind may wander, simply returning to the taste of your food and the scenery around you can serve as a rejuvenating meditation.

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3. The Laughing Meditation

We’ve all heard that laughter is the best medicine, but this is not just an anecdote. When you laugh, your body’s level of the stress hormone, cortisol is reduced. The key to laughter meditation is not to hold back, to allow yourself to laugh out loud and without guilt. Whether you are simply recounting humorous events of the day or watching a funny video, try to remain present and aware of your body during the process. Don’t allow the subject to draw you in so much that you completely lose yourself in the story. The Daily OM offers a

Whether you are simply recounting humorous events of the day or watching a funny video, try to remain present and aware of your body during the process. Don’t allow the subject to draw you in so much that you completely lose yourself in the story. The Daily OM offers a three-staged guide to laughter meditation.

4. The Driving Meditation

Many people who commute to work see their travel time as lost time, especially if they spend it in traffic. However, an uninterrupted period of time in your car is actually the perfect excuse for a longer, more focused meditation. You don’t need to close your eyes or lose focus of the road. In fact, that is the meditation. So often when we drive, we are texting, worrying, yelling at other drivers, or planning what we’ll do when we arrive at our destination. The simple act of focusing on your hands gripping the wheel, the car in front of you, or the sound

You don’t need to close your eyes or lose focus of the road. In fact, that is the meditation. So often when we drive, we are texting, worrying, yelling at other drivers, or planning what we’ll do when we arrive at our destination. The simple act of focusing on your hands gripping the wheel, the car in front of you, or the sound of the engine is a kind of meditation few recognize and practice.

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5. The Clean Sweep Meditation

Much like in the case of driving, cleaning is an activity that we sometimes dread and take for granted. It’s not a whole lot of fun, and cleaning jobs seem to constantly pile up around the house – the yard, the dishes, the laundry, etc. While it may seem less glamorous than that idealized image of a zen meditator, cleaning is a meditation used by some of the greats. Spiritual leader and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” Thus a meditation opportunity hides in every cluttered corner of your home. It’s also worth noting that external order and cleanliness can often seep in, leading to feelings of inner peace and clarity.

Spiritual leader and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh once spoke of “washing the dishes to wash the dishes.” Thus a meditation opportunity hides in every cluttered corner of your home. It’s also worth noting that external order and cleanliness can often seep in, leading to feelings of inner peace and clarity.

6. The Neutral Listening Meditation

Many of us would be quite surprised to recognize the calming effect of just listening. Typically chaotic and stressful environments can be transformed with this detachment trick. This is especially useful for those who hate their work or home environment, which may be filled with loud voices, traffic noises, or other sounds that continuously unground us.

However, even if you are listening to a conversation between two coworkers, there is an option to detach. Instead of frequently looking for the meaning in each sound in your environment, simply practice hearing. For the first time, you may recognize birds chirping outside. Maybe the shrill sound of a car horn honking won’t be as troublesome as it usually is. This is a powerful way to solidify a habit of meditation, as it requires nothing but the recognition of sounds around you.

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7. The Traveller’s Meditation

You don’t need a pile of cash and a plane ticket to practice this style of meditation. It simply rests on the belief that in nature, we can more easily find ourselves. The hum of a stream or the simple sound of silence on the front porch can serve as a reset – an experience that takes us out of ingrained habits and puts us back in alignment with nature. Your version of

Your version of traveling meditation might be taking a new route home from work, taking your lunch break at the park, or even just taking a walk to a new store. You don’t need to travel around the world to receive the benefits of the outdoors.

8. The Gazing Meditation

This meditation is specially designed for busy folks and requires nothing but your eyes and a focal point. It has been reported that staring into the flame of a candle – or even better – the eyes of another person can have radically beneficial effects. However, even if you are stuck at your desk, simply choosing a focal point and softening your eyelids can help quiet a tensed nervous system and bring you back to a sense of peace.

Another recommended gazing technique involves closing your eyes and looking up at the third eye, or the middle of your forehead. While scientists are still uncertain about the true function of the third eye, many have experienced its transformative effects. A third eye gazing meditation can help you generate new ideas and move through challenging problems during the work day.

As we know from research studies, meditation is associated with a shift in brain wave activity. Thus anything that can reduce stress and bring about a content level of focus is beneficial, and technically a kind of meditation. Use your imagination to begin implementing these and other creative meditative techniques for grounding and clarity.

Featured photo credit: grandrapidscenterformindfulness.com via grandrapidscenterformindfulness.com

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

5 Proven Memorization Techniques to Make the Most of Your Memory

Do you forget stuff every now and then? Are you trying to enhance your memory but not sure how?

All you need is the right memorization techniques to make the most of your memory.

The human brain is fascinating. More specifically, the vast interconnections within our mind. Mendel Kaelen compares the human brain to a hill covered in snow,

“Think of the brain as a hill covered in snow, and thoughts as sleds gliding down that hill. As one sled after another goes down the hill a small number of main trails will appear in the snow. And every time a new sled goes down, it will be drawn into preexisting trails, almost like a magnet. In time it becomes more and more difficulty to glide down the hill on any other path or in a different direction.”

The intent of Kaelen’s discussion is to think of new ways to temporarily flatten the snow. Kaelen remarked,

“The deeply worn trails disappear, and suddenly the sled can go in other directions, exploring new landscapes and, literally, creating new pathways.”

The idea here is to temporarily rewire your brain, or as Michael Pollan remarked in How to Change Your Mind,

“The power to shake the snow globe, disrupting unhealthy patterns of thought and creating a space of flexibility-entropy-in which more salubrious patterns and narratives have an opportunity to coalesce as the snow slowly settles.”

So, how can we rewire our brain allowing deeply worn connections to disappear and new connections to form? The answer is quite simple. We must change the way we store information in our mind.

    Let’s examine 5 specific memorization techniques that will change the way you think and remember information.

    1. Build a Memory Palace

      What is it?

      The method of loci[1] (aka memory palace) is a method of memory enhancement using visualizations with the use of spatial memory. It uses familiar information about your environment to quickly recall information. It is a method that was discussed by Cicero in an ancient dialogue called De Oratore.

      How to use it?

      Ron White discusses in How to Memorize Fast and Easily: Build a Memory Palace, that it’s essentially a room or building that you have memorized and you use locations in the room to store data. Ron informs us,

      “You memorize locations in a room and then you later go back to those locations to retrieve the data that you want to remember.”

      Example

      An easy 5-step example, in the form of a Wiki, can be found at Artofmemory.com. Let’s examine the the steps:

      • Step 1. Choose a place that you know well. For example, your house or office.
      • Step 2. Plan the route and pick specific locations in your route. For example, your front door, bathroom kitchen, etc.
      • Step 3. Decide what you want to memorize. For example, geography, list of items, answers for a test, etc.
      • Step 4. Place one or two items, with a mental image, and place them in your memory palace. Exaggerate your images. For example, use nudity or crazy images forcing it to stick in your mind.
      • Step 5. Make the image into a mnemonic.

      You can learn more about this technique here: How to Build a Memory Palace to Remember More of Everything

      2. Mnemonic

        What is it?

        A mnemonic is a memory device that aids in retention and/or retrieval of information. Mnemonic systems are techniques consciously used to improve memory by helping us use information already stored in long-term memory to make memorization easier.[2]

        How to use it?

        Mnemonics make use of retrieval cues to encode information in our brain allowing for efficient storage and retrieval of the information. The trick is to learn how to easily create mnemonics. If you find that you struggle with creating your own, try the following website: Mnemonic Generator.

        Example

        I recently came across a video using mnemonics to memorize countries. Memorizing Countries using Mnemonics is a video created as an introduction to a class for using memory techniques to learn the names of countries on maps.

        I actively search for videos that provide enormous educational value, yet receive very little exposure. At the time of this writing, this video has received less than 4k views. Let’s examine the video.

        Goal: Create a mnemonic to memorize the countries in the Caribbean (just the countries you need to learn).

        Step 1. Looking at a map – write out each country (for which five were chosen).

        Cuba, Jamaica, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico.

        Step 2. Write the first letter of each country vertically.

        C

        J

        H

        D

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        P

        Step 3. Create a sentence or phrase.

        Cubs

        Just

        Hate

        Doing

        Push-ups

        Cubs just hate doing push-ups. (Cuba Jamaica Haiti Dominican Republic Puerto Rico)

        3. Mnemonic Peg System

          What is it?

          According to Artofmemory.com, a mnemonic peg system is a technique for memorizing lists and it works by memorizing a list of words that are easy to associate with the numbers they represent.[3] These objects are the pegs of the system.

          How to use it?

          The trick is to create a Number Rhyme System with each number having a rhyming mnemonic keyword.

          Example

          Let’s look at an example of a Number Rhyme System:[4]

          0 = hero

          1 = gun

          2 = shoe

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          3 = tree

          4 = door

          5 = hive

          6 = sticks

          7 = heaven

          8 = gate

          9 = line

          Another technique like the Peg system is the Number Shape System.[5] Here you are assigning mnemonic images based on the shape of the number. Watch the following video for an example of this system: Number Shape System for Memorizing Numbers.

          4. Chunking

            What is it?

            Chunking is a way to remember large bits of information by chunking them into smaller pieces of information. We are more likely to then remember the information when we put the small pieces back together to see the entire picture.

            How to use it?

            In the video Chunking – A Learning Technique, we can see that there are several ways to chunk information.

            Example

            Let’s examine a simple example using a nine-digit number.

            Step 1. What is the number you are trying to remember?

            081127882

            Step 2. Cut the number into smaller pieces through chunking.

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            081 – 127 – 882

            Let’s look at one more example from the same video.

            “Piano teachers will first demonstrate an entire song to students. They will then ask their students to practice one measure at a time. Once the part has been learned and the neural connections in the brain have been built, then students go on to the next measure. After all chunks have been played separately, they are combined until the entire piece is connected.”

            5. Transfer of Learning

              What is it?

              Transfer of learning is a way to learn something in one area and apply it in another. Authors of Thinking at Every Desk, Derek and Laura Cabrera inform us about the transfer of learning,

              “If a student has a high transfer skills, she can learn one thing and then teach herself 10, 50, or 100 additional things.”

              How to use it?

              There are two specific ways to use it:

              1. Vertical Transfer (aka Far Transfer). Think of learning something in grade school and applying it another grade or later in life.
              2. Horizontal Transfer (aka Near Transfer). Think of learning a concept in history and applying it in math.

              Example

              I provide a detailed step-by-step example for this technique in this article:

              Learn How to Learn: How to Understand and Connect Difficult Ideas Easily

              The Bottom Line

              The key to using the techniques discussed here is to remember that we must actively think about information.

              We cannot simply drill information into our brain through rote memorization. We must change the way we think about memorization. We must find a way to “shake the snow-globe” in our mind or flatten the snow so that we can create new learning paths.

              Or as Derek and Laura Cabrera point out, we must insert “Thinking” into the equation,

              “Information X Thinking = Knowledge”

              More About Enhancing Memories

              Featured photo credit: Nong Vang via unsplash.com

              Reference

              [1] Remember Everything: Memory Palaces and the Method of Loci
              [2] The Learning Center Exchange: 9 Types of Mnemonics for Better Memory
              [3] Art of Memory: Mnemonic Peg System
              [4] Art of Memory: Number Rhyme System
              [5] Art of Memory: Number Shape System

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