When it comes to mindfulness meditation, it can be super difficult to sit down for a period of time in silence, and that can be discourage some people from trying to meditate. Luckily, there a number of activities that have a meditative effect that don't require you to just stay still. Hobbies that require focus or repetitive motions can be just as relaxing and give you the same positive effects, and they'll likely feel more attainable to you.
"Although many people think of meditating as sitting still and noticing the breath, there are countless variations on this ancient practice," says Joy Rains, author of Meditation Illuminated: Simple Ways to Manage Your Busy Mind over email. "Don't like to sit still? Consider weaving 'mindful moments' into your day— times when you quiet the chatter in your mind and bring your focus into the present moment."
So why meditate? Research from the journal JAMA Internal Medicine suggests that mindfulness meditation can help ease psychological stresses like anxiety, depression, and pain, and it can help cure symptoms of these issues by improving sleep and managing stress, according to Harvard Health.
If you think you could benefit from some meditation in your life, consider taking up one of these 11 activities that can be very meditative.
"A walking meditation can be done most anywhere, anytime, even for just a couple of minutes," says Rains. "Bring all your attention to the soles of your feet as they touch the ground. World-renowned meditation teacher Thich Nhat Hanh says to 'walk as if the soles of your feet are kissing the Earth.'"
Being mindful when you're eating can not only make the process more enjoyable, but it can help prevent binge eating and other eating disorders as well, according to Harvard Health. "When you eat, bring all your awareness to the process of eating: the pace of your eating, the taste and smell of the food, the colors of the food on your plate," says Rains. "You may want to chew slowly, finishing one bite before eating the next."
Whether you're doing the dishes, vacuuming, or mopping the floor, use the repetitive motions of cleaning to lull you into a meditative state. "Notice the movement of your arms as you sweep, or the sounds of the broom swishing over the floor's surface, or the way the bristles on the broom meet the ground," says Rains. "Notice the soapy water and how it smells, notice the temperature of the water, and the surface of the dish as it gets clean."
4. Adult Coloring Books
"This an excellent opportunity to monotask (i.e. do one thing at a time)," says Jen Kluczkowski, the CEO/co-founder of Mindfresh over email. "This gives your brain a break and strengthens your attention span."
5. Crafts Like Knitting
There's a reason why so many people enjoy siting for hours with their knitting needles. "These are certainly creative hobbies, but because they have a fair amount of repetition in them, they can be very effective to help bring you to a meditative state," says John Turner is CEO/Founder of QuietKit over email.
"Moving to the beat of your favorite album can help you reach a meditative state," says Turner. "Find a favorite playlist with a steady beat that you can go back to over and over again." Music around 60 beats per minute can cause the brain to synchronize with the beat, causing alpha brainwaves, which leave you feeling relaxed and conscious, according to the University of Nevada, Reno.
7. Focusing On A Single Object
"This actually fits into a type of meditation, but most people don't think of this as such, and it really can be done anywhere," says Turner. "It could be watching a tree sway in the breeze, the flame of a candle move about, or water coming out of a fountain."
Planting seeds and pulling weeds can be relaxing and meditative if you take the time to hone your focus on what you're doing and appreciate the beauty of the great outdoors. A study from the Journal of Health Psychology found that gardening leads to decreased cortisol levels and more positive moods.
9. Reading A Book
Getting caught up in a good fictional book can help take your mind away from any life problems. This can help you slow down and relax without having to worry about what is going on in the outside world.
10. Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing your teeth doesn't require you to focus on the details of what you're doing, so take this brief time to become aware of your actions and what you are feeling. This will ensure you are becoming mindful a least twice a day!
Shopping is a great way to pay attention to the sights and sounds around you. "Notice what you hear in the store, including the sounds of shoppers, salespeople, music, and conversation," says Rains. "Notice smells. Notice the colors and shapes of the goods being sold."
Next time you need some relaxation, don't feel like you need to sit in the corner and close your eyes — try one of these activities instead.
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