I recently published an article on the 5 simple steps to meditating and giving yourself a daily dose of attention, and was pleasantly surprised by the comments I received from readers. One particular comment by Lucy made an excellent point about alternative types of meditation which I wanted to talk about more, as it highlights the many forms which are often shadowed by the popular understanding that meditation is only performed in silence, positioned on a pillow and a fluffy Indian quilt, requiring your devoted attention to stillness.
While this is true for some meditation practice (and the one which I teach in my own guided meditation blog post), there are many other forms of meditation that I use every day to great effect.
But if meditation isn’t just the sitting still variety, then what is it?
Put simply, meditation can be any activity or technique that is designed to promote relaxation, build internal energy or life force, and develop our compassion, love, patience, generosity and forgiveness.
Truth be told, if I were to rely on my morning meditation practice alone, then I would’nt receive the recharge I need to meet the demands of my high energy lifestyle. To keep my life running smooth, I need a way to recharge my soul that align with restorative activities I truly love.
What? Meditation from doing things instead of not doing things?
That’s right. I experience meditation in many activities that are repetitive in nature, require little thought, and which put me into a state of trance. If you’ve ever watched late night TV and been drawn to an infomercial, only to find at the end that hours have slipped by, then you will likely appreciate what a trance is. Curse those infomercials...
I achieve a similar state of trance through some types of repetitive activity, especially (but not always) those that require a connection with nature, one of my highest and most important values. Running in the forest, long walks on the beach, and even mowing the lawn, all provide me with the meditative recharge of my soul. Combining these active means of meditation with the mindfulness meditation practice in my morning routine creates an even greater connection to love in all areas of my life, and amplifies the meditative effects I experience.
To get you inspired, here are some more activities I enjoy on a regular basis that provide a meditative effect.
10 Ways to Meditate Using Everyday Activities
1. Take a long walk
I try to get out for a long walk (or run) on my own at least once a week. Without music or a partner who continually talks, a long walk allows you to reconnect with the present, and the state of your body. You can focus on breathing, let your thoughts run free, and be inspired by your increased creativity and self awareness.
2. Swim laps in a pool
When I went through a swimming phase a year or two ago, I found the act of following lanes in the pool, practicing tumble turns, and perfecting my breathing practice, very meditative elements. There are few distractions when you get in a lane and glide out 20 to 30 laps, so it’s a good time for you to focus only on that which needs your attention - your direction, your breathing, and that upcoming wall you don’t want to collide with. There’s little time for anything else, hence it’s ‘meditative’ ability to quiet your thoughts.
3. Stare into an open fire
Camping has to be one of my most favourite things to do, and what makes camping so cool is the ability to have a fire. My fondest childhood memories of camping include sitting around the open campfire next to my dog, staring into the flames and watching their beautiful patterns as they erupt from the glowing coals and pierce the bellowing plume of smoke. I would find myself lost in a trance, thinking of blissful nothing, comforted and energised by the fire’s warmth. Sounds a lot like meditation...
4. Connect with nature
Those who know me, know that I’m everything nature. Any chance I get I’m outdoors in bare feet attempting to connect with the wonderful power of our earth. This simple act calms my nerves, increases my energy, and improves my mood instantly. It could be as simple as lying on the grass staring at the sky, or a walk barefoot in a local nature reserve. We are creatures of nature. Connect with it intimately to receive it’s restorative energy.
5. Sit on a beach
I love nature, but my soulmate is the beach - where land meets the ocean. When I visit beach destinations, I love nothing more than heading to the beach early in the morning before the crowds come in and listen to the power of the ocean. The vibrations made as the waves crash into the sand are extremely calming, and the cool air on my face is soothing and refreshing.
6. Visit a waterfall
Almost as powerful as listening to crashing waves on a beach, water cascading over a waterfall has an equally powerful restorative effect on my soul. If you can’t find a waterfall, then running water in a water feature at home or a local stream or river may have a similar effect.
The stillness and silence you can experience by paddling to the middle of a lake is breathtaking. The act of paddling in itself is very meditative for the mind and body, as you are required to focus on a rhythm both for your breathing and for your paddling. It’s this focus on the here and now of kayaking that builds your level of self awareness and provides a meditative effect.
To cook is to develop an intimate connection with the nutrients that create us. It's true that we are what we eat, so cooking is one of the most important skills (aside from growing food) that we can learn in order to strengthen our wellness. I love cooking. The chopping, stirring, methodical act of food preparation is what I find meditative, and the result is always a healthy restoration of my body’s energy stores.
9. Running without music
I’ve been a runner on and off for the last 13 years, and I know from experience that if I’m ever stressed, in a foul mood, or even feeling drained, then a run of any intensity or duration cures me. The combination of breathing and concentration on physical effort creates a trance like no other, and the increased blood flow fills my brain with oxygen thus ‘clearing my mind’ of toxic thoughts (and waste).
10. Practice yoga
Where would an article on peace, meditation, and body restoration be without mention of yoga? I love the many benefits of yoga, and practice Ashtanga Yoga twice weekly to reward myself with the stretching, breathing, and increased focus that's required to get the most out of my session. The results are like no other ‘physical’ activity that I undertake. It’s a true restorative and meditative form of exercise, and a must try for those who’ve not experienced its benefit.
A Meditation Tip: Connect With What You Love
As you can see from the 10 everyday activities above, you don't need to ‘sit still in silence’, buy expensive guided meditation music, or even devote yourself to a 'spiritual' practice of any kind to get the benefits of meditation. You can get similar results from activities that promote your connection to love and self restoration, and may either be physical in nature or not. Maybe painting, knitting, or vacuuming is your meditation practice for the day.
No matter what it is, the common theme is to devote time for you each day, focusing your energy inwards to self rather than being spent on your external surroundings. Create the time to restore your soul with meditation and re-establish a connection to activities you love in the process.
Your meditation practice can be as flexible as your imagination, so starting tomorrow, get out there and discover what’s possible for you. I guarantee your soul will smile.
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About the Author
Hi, I'm Jason, founder of Kickstart a Cause, teaching you to unlock your true potential and create a life you were born to live. When I'm not inspiring greatness in others, I can be found travelling the world exploring the beauty of nature.
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