There’s no question we all want the stress-reducing benefits of meditation. Who wouldn’t want to lower their blood pressure, easily fight off sickness, and feel like a million bucks?
But what if you don’t like to meditate?
Maybe you’re busy, or have little ones in the house, making it impossible to find time for yourself to calm your mind. Maybe you just don’t like the idea of sitting around cross-legged, chanting to yourself like some sort of hippy.
If this sounds like you, there’s good news: You don’t have to feel bad about not liking meditation.
And what’s more—you can still get the health benefits of meditation, without having to meditate in the traditional sense.
There’s more than one way to get Zen, and you don’t need a string of mala beads, or even a quiet environment to do it.
1. Just Breath
It’s so easy, you’re probably doing it right now. At least I hope. Now focus just a little effort, and you can get some meditative health benefits out of it by making your breathing conscious.
Conscious breathing is a part of meditation. But you don’t have to sit in a lotus position with your legs piled on top of one another to do it; in fact, you can even do this while you’re driving. (Bonus! This tip could prevent road rage.)
Here’s how you do it:
Take a deep purposeful breath. Fill your lungs with fresh oxygen. Exhale powerfully.
Just don’t do it too fast, or you’ll get lightheaded. Continue for 100 breaths, or if you’re busy doing something, and don’t have time to count set an alarm for 5 minutes.
Take a Mindful Walk
Busy people who aren’t into meditation can still get many of the benefits by taking a walk. There’s fresh air, excellent exercise benefits, and even good people watching if you live in the city. And you don’t need quiet to enjoy the benefits of walking meditation.
We’re not just reducing stress here, we’re slashing a few calories too. Start slow if you are new to walking. Even a leisurely walk around the block will give you a boost. Work your way up to a minimum of 30 minutes a day, and you’ll potentially see better cardiovascular health, weight loss, reduced stress, and even more energy.
Have a Dance Party
If you think sitting still is for the birds, get out and shake it. Dancing can be downright hard work, and as we know, exercise is a form of meditation. It reduces stress, stimulates the brain, and if you’re breathing your butt off, you’ll know you’re doing it right.
The multitasking benefits of dance-meditation are profound. Get your social interaction for the night (socializing is also good for you), breathe deeply and get some exercise, lose your inhibitions for a beat, and burn off steam. Get moving, tear up the dance floor, and enjoy the calming effects later.
If you’re a self-proclaimed dance-hater who prefers to stand on the sidelines, you can still use this trick. Try turning on some upbeat music while you’re making dinner one evening. Moving around the kitchen while you prep and cook, and you might just move to the music…whether you want to or not.
Clean Your House
Meditation is all about focus and mindfulness. You can paint this intention on any task you engage in—even your chores.
Mindfulness meditation slows down the thought process to digest what is happening at each moment. Focus on the small snippets of time makes us more present in our daily lives.
Take doing the dishes for example. It’s something you have to do nearly every day, it takes about 10-20 minutes (depending on whether the dishwasher is full), and you make repetitive movements.
Does your car need a wash? Reserve the Karate Kid jokes for now, but there are benefits to making repetitive movements with your hands, as long as you are consciously aware of the simple motions.
Wax on, wax off.
Take a Long Shower
Take this with a grain of salt if your region is experiencing a drought. Otherwise, crank up the water heater, strip it down to the ground, and get wet. This counts as hydrotherapy, which has been shown to increase circulation, detoxify, and increase focus and concentration.
Showers are physically stimulating by nature. Who doesn’t love the feel of a good strong shower head beating on the back of their neck? But you can take it to the next level by introducing—here it comes again—mindfulness.
Breathe deeply. Relax your hands at your sides. Then take 5 minutes and consciously feel the sensation of the water. Shampoo your hair to give your scalp a nice massage. Soap up and scrub your body with a loofah to stimulate your skin.
When you’re in the shower, BE IN the shower. Don’t let your mind take you to work, to your daily to-do list, or back to that argument you
Nearly any task can turn into a meditative experience. Place intention in your gardening and enjoy the repetition of pulling weeds. Breath deep and focus on each brushstroke as you touch up the paint on your trim. Look around you and consider which tasks you complete every day, and how you can get more stress-reducing benefits by adding mindfulness to make them meditative.