People have been meditating for thousands of years and for the most part it’s been practiced by monks, disciples of spirituality, and hippies. Over the last decade, however, meditation has been gaining a new fan base: scientists.
Meditation has been rigorously studied by the scientific community and the findings of these studies has alarmed everyone. Meditation, it turns out, really works. It doesn’t just help significantly with depression and anxiety, it’s also been shown to help with anti-aging, fighting infections, and even combating feelings of loneliness!
However, if you’re like me, the mere thought of doing nothing for 20 minutes stresses me out more than any amount of meditation could redeem.
Below, I’ve compiled a list of the 6 best alternative forms of meditation for the fidgeters, workaholics, ADD’ers, and multi-taskers of the world who want to get the benefits of formal meditation practice but without the ‘doing nothing’ part.
1. Listen to Music
When was the last time you heard some music? If you’re like most people: probably within the last 24 hours. Now for the trick question… when was the last time you actually listened to music – really listened? When was the last time you closed your eyes and listened to an album properly from beginning to end with no interruptions? If you’re like most people… you probably can’t remember.
Meditation gets you out of your head and into the present moment by inviting you to pay attention to your sense perceptions (sight, sound, touch, etc) with 100% focus. Listening to music properly, soaking in the melodies, the harmonies, the rhythms and the timbres is a powerful and enjoyable form of meditation. Get an album you’ve wanted to listen to for some time and listen to it… really listen.
2. Dance Like Nobody’s Watching
Dancing is the natural and optional progression from listening to music. Tribal societies have used percussive music and dance as a spiritual practice since the dawn of humanity. We’ve all had the horrible feeling of dancing while being stuck up in our head, over thinking, self-conscious and paranoid about how we look.
In order to dance properly, we must enter into our body and become one with the music. Dancing is a fantastic form of meditation and peak experience because there’s only so long a person can dance before they’re forced to become present to the moment. Go out and dance or do it at home on your own. Let go of your self image, have fun and be silly. Why not?
3. Draw From Observation
The better you see, the better you’re able to draw. Now I’m not talking about 20/20 vision, I’m talking about your ability to notice and observe the world around you. Most of us don’t know if we have roman numerals on our watches or numbers, let alone the eye colors of our own families. By drawing, you’ll be using your sight perception to get out of your head and into the moment.
Some of the greatest minds in history (Da Vinci, Goethe) were avid drawers. It’s a fantastic exercise for the mind because it prompts you to highlight only the important parts of the world around you. Don’t worry about the quality, it’s the process that counts. Pick a person you’re fond of and draw their face. You’ll feel much closer and compassionate towards them and maybe afterwards, towards yourself.
4. Practice Yoga
Not only is yoga incredible for flexibility, fitness and strength, it’s also one of the oldest and most potent forms of meditation. You’ll be combining various movements with coordinated breathing to help you focus on your inner body. Start by watching yoga videos on YouYube, there’s hundreds to choose from – and practice them a few times a week. Don’t get caught up with all the bells and whistles, yoga is about feeling connected to the earth and your inner body. Last time I checked, that didn’t cost anything.
5. Eat Properly
In our hectic world, we’re all about getting to our destination. Eating is no different. Meditation is all about finding something and doing it with the entirety of your consciousness. But today, we no longer eat; we just swallow food in front of the TV. Rarely do we just experience and savour each bite for what it is. Rarely do we feel the texture, the sweetness and the temperature and show gratitude for the amazing variety of good tasting foods we have access too.
The next time you eat… just eat. Pay attention to the sensations, the tastes and the smells. Take each bite at a time and savour each mouthful. To some unfortunate people in the world, the food we shovel daily down our gullets would seem like 5 star cuisine. Bear this in mind the next time you eat.
6. Do Household Chores
If you haven’t realized yet, nearly anything can be turned into a meditative practice as long as you make the decision to leave your head and experience the world through your senses. Television, video games and reading don’t count as meditation because they just replace our own thoughts with more stimulating ones.
This is why household chores are an excellent form of meditation. Your mind will desperately try and take over and put you up in your head to keep you entertained and stimulated. Resist the pull and focus on the task at hand. If you vacuuming, then vacuum, if you’re washing dishes, wash dishes. Presence can be brought into nearly every aspect of our lives from damaged relationships to unsatisfactory work and you’ll get the same benefits of formal meditation practice. Wax on, wax off…