There are so many benefits to meditating, but still, it might not be everybody’s cup of tea - and that’s okay. Not everyone likes the idea of sitting still for an extended period of time, trying to focus on their breathing. Lucky for us all, sitting isn’t the only form of meditation out there. Here are six alternatives to sitting meditation so everyone can reap the benefits of a clear, calm mind.
On days I can’t bring myself to sit and meditate, I take myself on long solo walks instead. Walking in a slow, deliberate and aware manner is a great form of meditation. The Buddhist walking meditation has been found to reduce depression, improve fitness and lower stress hormones in depressed elderly patients. As with regular sitting meditation, allow your thoughts to drift in and out without dwelling or judging them. Instead, focus your attention on the shifting weight of your body as you walk, the sensations throughout your body, the feel of the wind on you - basically be in the moment. If you’re new to walking meditations, walk along a familiar path - perhaps a park you’re familiar with. This reduces distractions and having to think about where to go next. Start with something short and slowly build up to longer walks. If you’re familiar with walking meditations, then go for a nice long walk!
Gardening is such a great way to spend the time. You’re doing something physical, working with your hands and you’re growing something. What a great situation! When trying to meditate while gardening, focus your attention on what you’re doing. Feel the earth and soil on your hands, dig deliberately - thoughts with flit in and out but don’t dwell on them. I love gardening whenever I can. Hours can sometimes pass without me even realising. Try doing this during a time when the heat of the sun isn’t too hot that it can be distracting. The evenings or early mornings are a great time.
Adult colouring books are becoming quite popular these days - probably because of the benefits one can reap from them. Mandalas were introduced to the west by Carl Jung, and now art therapy is a popular form of therapy for both children and adults. Colouring is a great way to build presence, since colouring within the lines require you to pay attention. If your mind wanders, so too will your work. Sometimes by the end of a session, you might just surprise yourself with the results. Don’t worry if you think you’re ‘not creative’ or you’ve never had any art classes. It’s not about that. Just pick up a colouring pencil and give it a go.
Have you ever gone out for a night of unbridled dancing and felt great the next day? Yeap! One of the benefits of living in Berlin is that there are clubs that open all day on weekends, and I’ve been known to pop in around noon on a Sunday, dance for a couple of hours and then be on my way to complete my weekend chores, feeling great! Unfortunately, Malaysia doesn’t have 24-hour clubs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t crank up the music and lose yourself in it at home! They say, dance like nobody's watching, and yes, that means pull out all those moves you normally wouldn’t show - no one said you had to be good at them. It means really letting go and merging with the music. Doesn’t matter if you think you look silly, the benefits are great!
My musician friends have long claimed that playing music is their meditation and it looks like research has finally caught up with this claim. Of course, this only applies to those who are seasoned musicians unfortunately. For a beginner, there might be too much thinking involved to really reach that state of mindful bliss. But all is not lost, if you can’t play anything complicated, keep it simple and use a Tibetan singing bowl, or a hand drum.
Tai Chi, (along with Yoga) is a form of moving meditation and is gaining quite a lot of popularity in the West these days. I’ll bet your parents and their weekly tai chi group already know all the benefits of this movement but just to slap a little bit of science to that, a study has confirmed that those doing tai chi have increased brain volume, verbal learning, verbal fluency and saw improvements in dementia scores.
There are so many ways to reap the benefits of sitting meditations. I hope you find something that fits your lifestyle!