Most of us are aware of the endless benefits meditation provides. From decreased stress to improved concentration, meditation is widely touted as the number one go-to for wellness. But what the thousands of teachers and practitioners don’t mention is that it’s not everyone. Indeed, many struggle with sitting in silence or following an anchor for a specified period. Yet thankfully, several meditation alternatives exist for those who need a different way to achieve the same goal: peace from the endless internal chatter.
Why Is Meditation Hard for Some People?
While many love meditation, others struggle with several aspects of the process. For example, they may not be able to sit still in one place for too long. Or struggle to pay attention to the present moment. Yet others with post-traumatic stress disorder may find closing their eyes too traumatic and uncomfortable. Therefore, some appreciate meditating with their eyes open. However, the overpowering nature of sitting still with one’s thoughts may intensify anxiety, or those with chronic pain, may experience cramps and other discomfort while trying to concentrate. But beyond these reasons, there are ways to work around the challenges and reap the benefits. Whether you try the meditation alternatives below or experiment with the several forms of meditation, like learning how to use RAIN meditation, you may just find that meditation is, in fact, for you.
14 Meditation Alternatives to Try
Yoga and meditation are intertwined. In fact, you can’t enter a yoga studio or even practice an online yoga class without learning how to focus on your breath to ground into the present moment. In this way, yoga becomes a mindful movement. You intentionally move through the poses with conscious awareness and compassion. So whether you go for a full session or complete a bedtime yoga routine for better sleep, enjoy the outlet to release stress and feel better.
2. Adult coloring
From intricate designs like animals and flowers to a comic-inspired filled with superheroes: adult coloring books are for everyone. And there’s a reason why it’s so popular. In fact, it’s science-backed. Research shows the act of coloring can induce a state of relaxation, decrease stress and anxiety, and even improves eye and hand coloration. So, shop the endless options, and allow this fun outlet to feed your inner child and boost your mood.
3. Forest bathing
With an origin in Japan, forest bathing, also known as shinrin-yoku, is the mindful practice of walking in nature through your senses. It involves allowing your senses of sight, hearing, taste, smell, and touch to bridge and connect you to the natural world around you. For example, as you’re walking with intention, smell the trees, hear the birds chirping, feel the sun on your skin, or notice the bright colors of a flower. By opening your senses, you’ll experience a grounding technique in anxiety and improvements in stress relief and pain management.
Developed in China as a part of traditional Chinese medicine, Qigong involves using your breath with specific movements to release energy, mind, body, and spirit. This practice allows your qui to travel freely, unblocking stagnant energy and receiving several mental, emotional, and physical benefits. As you move through the gentle routine with focused breath and mind regulation, you’ll feel aligned with the present moment and unbothered by your sources of stress, a perfect alternative to meditation.
Do you remember learning how to float as a kid and feeling at peace? Well, floating as an adult offers the same stillness. As you inflate your chest and allow the water to cushion you, your blood pressure and heart rate lower, and you feel at ease. And an interesting fact, if you manage to float in a sensory deprivation tank, it slows your brain waves to a theta state, the same state achieved during deep meditation or before blissfully falling asleep. Therefore, go to your local pool or find a spa and float your troubles away.
6. Method of Loci
Sounds like a character from Thor, right? One of the most interesting meditation alternatives is a method that helps you remember information by learning how to create a mind palace and attaching an image to a fact you want to remember. For example, say you want to remember your phone number; you would visualize walking through your home and attaching numbers to objects: 3 to bathroom mirror, 6 to an elephant painting, 8 to green shoes, etc. Then when you need to recall your phone number, you would walk through your mind palace, and the numbers will still be attached to the same objects. Like meditation, you become entranced in the present moment while improving your concentration and memory.
By dumping your thoughts on paper, journaling provides a coping mechanism to manage anxiety and overthinking. To start, grab a piece of paper, and without worrying about how your writing looks, allow your pen to glide your hand. Write about what intuitively comes to you for as long as you want, or follow journaling prompts for mental health. You can also return to your entry a few days later to discover how your sense of self evolves. Indeed, journaling reveals patterns, habits, and limiting beliefs to help you grow and heal.
There’s a reason why Marie Kondo is so popular; much like meditation, her method is a mindful task that requires you to anchor to the present moment. As you spring clean your home with time-saving deep cleaning hacks, everyone should know and ask, “Does this item spark joy?” you release the burden of objects that no longer serve you. Pro tip: as you clean, choose an anchor, like noticing the shape of the objects around you or observing your thoughts with compassion. Both tricks will transform your cleaning practice into movement meditation.
9. Listening to music
Listening to music without words like 432hz or even classical music can allow you to destress and become aware of the world around you. Indeed, music follows a similar structure to meditation because it provides a clear anchor to return to when your thoughts become overwhelming. So, turn on a melody of soothing tunes, lie down or sit, close your eyes, and if you notice an unpleasant thought, kindly return to the sounds and breathe.
Other meditation alternatives include;
Or anything that anchors you to the present moment and brings you a moment of internal stillness. Enjoy!
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