Definition of meditation: “focus one’s mind for a period of time, in silence or with the aid of chanting, for religious or spiritual purposes or as a method of relaxation.” (or) “think deeply about (something).”
The first thing you need to do in order to meditate is to stop thinking of it as boring, hard, or for hippies! Start seeing it as something that is not only good for you, but can also make you stronger and happier. It can be done on your terms and in your own way – no matter what anyone else says. Make it fun, make it normal, and make it routine for you and your needs.
1 – Nature
I think that one of the best ways to meditate, without really putting in much effort or realising that you’re doing it, is to get out in nature. Don’t bring your phone. Don’t bring someone else. Don’t have a set destination in mind. Don’t rush. Take your time, breathe, and just be in nature. Let it do what it does naturally, which is calm our minds and awaken our souls.
Find a clear, comfortable space among trees or by a lake or with mountains in the background (if you’re lucky enough!) and just breathe it all in. It is proven, scientifically and all that, that being in nature encourages those happy hormones.
2 – Walks
This can go hand in hand with nature, and it works wonders. Going on destination-less walks, with no music, or distractions, or strain can be a perfect way to meditate. Just walk. And walk. And walk some more. Go at a steady, calm pace and go where your gut (or heart) leads you. Allow the mind to think, don’t try to control it. But if you feel negative thoughts or stressful thoughts cropping up, guide your mind to take in your scenery as you pass instead.
3 – Mindfulness
As I said above, taking in your scenery as you walk can be a practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness is simply the act of being in the present moment. Being aware of what you’re doing, feeling, seeing, smelling, and hearing in the NOW. You can do mindful colouring, mindful walks, mindful breaths, mindful sensory perception, mindful yoga, mindful pampering, and mindful…just about anything! Becuase all you need to do is concentrate the mind on what you’re doing and feeling as you do it, and that’s mindfulness.
One thing that my reiki masseuse once said I should try was to mindfully brush my teeth. This meant concentrating on the feeling of the bristles against my teeth and gums and tongue. To smell the mint, to feel the ache in my arm, to hear the water running, to hear the whooshing…
4 – Sitting in lotus
When most people think of meditation, they think of this…
This is the lotus pose. This is the most common way to sit whilst actively meditating. If you are someone who has found meditation (this form) to be interesting, then all you can do is try it. Don’t worry about being perfect; don’t worry about your legs crossing perfectly, either! Just sit how you feel comfortable, place the hands, and focus on the breath. This is the easiest way to get started.
From there, you can progress as you wish. It is believed that the placement of the hands can be important. For example, some believe that open hands with the palms up is a way of welcoming the universe. Some also believe that placing hand(s) on the stomach or clasping them is a form of self-reflection and inner concentration.
But find what is meaningful to you.
There are a great many forms of meditation that involve sitting like this:
- Guided meditation
- Focused meditation
- Mindful meditation
- Just sitting
- Universe connection
- Looking within
- Asking questions & seeking answers
- And many more, see here
5 – Affirmations
Affirmations can be brilliant for those wishing to help their mental health, give themselves some self-love and to trust in their path. Affirmations are “emotion support or encouragement“. For me, this means anything that makes you feel good, feel strong, feel happy, feel powerful, feel loved, and feel good energy. And you can use them in any way you want, as long as you’re giving them real meaning and the time to process them within.
Here are some affirmations that I’ve used in the past:
I am enough
I am strong
I am beautiful
I am a good person
I am a loved person
I have a lot to give
I have a beautiful mind
I am better and bigger than my fears
I have time and tools to grow
I can do this
I am me, I am alive, and that is wonderful.
6 – Guided Meditations
As briefly mentioned above, you can also follow guided meditations if you’re a beginner or you need some help concentrating on the right things. Guided meditations are rife on the internet and provide you with the tools to seep into the right headspace for meditation. You can use apps like Headspace, Eternal Sunshine, 10% Happier, or Calm, or you can use YouTube meditations, or you can find them on Spotify or podcast apps, too.
7 – Yoga
Some people may disagree with me for putting yoga under a form of meditation – that’s fine. But hear me out. If meditation is focusing the mind as a form of relaxation, why can’t that focus be on yoga? Something that is relaxing, includes the breath (like meditation), and soothes the body and mind? Yoga, for me, is all about alignment and slowing myself down. And so, again for me, it is a lot like meditation. I focus on how my body feels doing each pose. I focus on my breaths. I focus on which pose is next and how to carefully get into it at the right pace.
I’m focusing…being in the now…and breathing mindfully…now that’s meditation.
8 – Self Exploration
This was mentioned briefly above as something you can do when in lotus pose. I think this is something you can do when walking, journaling, or waiting for the kettle to boil, too. Now, I haven’t done a lot of research about spiritual forms of meditation and forms from Asia (the country of origin) but I do know that self-exploration is definitely a real form.
For why do we meditate? To gain calm. To gain inner peace. To focus. To have a break. To strengthen the mind. To gain enlightenment. To alleviate stress and anxiety. And to find the truth and true self…
Questions to ask in meditation for self-exploration and discovery:
- Why do I feel this sense of unease?
- What is wrong in my life?
- What is right in my life?
- What makes me happy?
- What matters most to me?
- What does my ideal life look like?
- What do I ultimately want?
- What’s holding me back?
9 – Self Care
Mindfully caring for the self can be a great form of meditation. This is with doing things like taking a bath, reading (without a goal), journaling, yoga, exercise (not strenuous), mood-boards, doing your hair, face masks, nails done, moisturising, and so on. Self-care (looking after the wellbeing of the self in all forms) is down to the individual, but it becomes a form of meditation when done mindfully. Not just taking a bath, but really feeling the warmth of the water, smelling the aroma, feeling the muscles unwind, and washing every inch slowly and carefully.
Don’t just take care of yourself because you have to, do it because you want to. Make real time for it. Allow yourself to truly experience it and note (deeply) how good it feels.
10 – Running
Now, I hold my hands up, I’m not a runner – not anymore. But I know that just like walking, running can be very therapeutic and can count as a form of meditation when done right. As long as running isn’t strenuous and is done without a destination and without distraction, then it can be your meditation. Doing it outdoors, too, is important. Allow your body to feel alive and powerful. Allow your mind to open. Allow the nature around you to connect with you. Allow your thoughts to come and go. And control those breaths in a relaxing, freeing way.
There you have it, some of my thoughts on meditating in a less restrictive way. Meditation really can be what you want it to be, just as long as it’s calming, slow-paced, focused, powerful and deep, spiritual, healing, and mindful.
Further help and guidance if you’re interested in different meditation practices:
If you need any help in bettering your mental health, or better coping with anxiety, depression, and stress, then my book “You’re As Mad As I Am” may be for you. Check it out here, and download a free sample to see what it’s all about.
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