One doesn’t have to search for long to determine that the benefits of meditation are being talked about everywhere. The ancient practice can lead to lessened stress and anxiety, improved sleep quality, and enhanced pain management and self awareness. But many of us have a very narrow definition of what the word means, and we immediately conjure up images of a completely stationary individual seated on a pillow with her eyes closed and fingers in the classic “Om” position. However, there are many more ways to meditate that may be better suited for those who have a hard time sitting still or who might feel they won’t reap all the benefits from the classic, seated style. Read on for a few creative methods and consider trying one the next time you need a mental break.
1. Walking to a Destination
For newbies who may be unsure about dedicating a time solely to meditation, or for those who just prefer to squeeze it in on the way to work or while running errands, this type of meditation certainly fits the bill. A traveling meditation can even be done in the middle of a city, provided that you are committed to being mindful. The goal here is to really tune into two elements in particular: the movement of your feet and legs, as well as positive things happening around you.
First, start with your own body. Notice the strength and speed with which your feet are hitting the ground and how your legs feel. Then, expand your thinking to notice positive elements of your environment. Listen for sounds that bring you joy, like someone laughing or birds singing. Begin to look for positive visuals, like blue sky with breathtaking clouds or a cute dog that’s walking past. Unfortunately, when we are not actively searching for positives, our minds will often default to negative events or things that we find annoying or disruptive in our environment. Walking to a destination while specifically looking for things that make you happy is a great way to turn that thinking around and to become more mindful.
This type of active meditation is best done in a quiet space (either indoors or outside) with a relatively flat surface on which to practice. Meditating and practicing yoga simultaneously is not the time to try out any new or advanced poses which would require excessive mental energy; movements such as cat-cow, lotus position, butterfly pose, and sun salutations are ideal. It’s beneficial to adopt a breathing pattern that’s timed with your poses and to really make an effort to stick to that throughout your practice. Bodily awareness is also of the utmost importance during a yoga meditation. Take the time to really consider how your body feels both while it’s static in each pose as well as how those sensations change as you transition between positions.
3. Walking in a Straight Line
Find a path that takes approximately 20 to 30 seconds to travel and begin to walk back and forth. Make sure there are no obstacles blocking the path that you would have to navigate around. Preferably, the path will be somewhere relatively quiet with not too much going on visually. Keep your eyes cast down about five to six feet in front of you as you walk. It may be helpful to repeat a simple mantra as you walk such as “here now” in order to stay present, or perhaps one like “I’ve got this” if you’re going through some particularly stressful events in your life.