Look, I'm a fan of meditation. I've been a true believer in its healing powers for a long time, well before all the scientific evidence finally showed meditation does indeed reduce blood pressure, increase immunity, provide emotional balance, lower stress levels, and the list goes on.
Meditation rocks in so many ways. I know this. And I still don't like to meditate. I've tried various styles for varied amounts of time. I've sat, stood and have laid down, eyes opened, eyes closed. I want to love it, really, yet I still can't even bring myself to like it all that much. Most of the time, I just fall asleep.
Luckily, it's possible to get many of the benefits of meditation without actually meditating, at least in the conventional sense. There are numerous activities out there that can offer you peace of mind without also boring you to pieces.
Here are five alternatives to meditation -- no deep breaths, no mantras -- for all of us out there who, for whatever reason, just don't want to meditate.
1. CRACK UP
Laughing is a lot more fun than meditating, and it's also good for you. Laughter can reduce stress, strengthen your immune system and improve your mood. No surprise there. It's pretty hard to be in a bad mood in the midst of a laugh attack. Are you laughing enough? Is there such a thing? Weave laughter into your day, every day. Don't wait for something funny to happen. Just start laughing about nothing, and you'll likely soon find yourself cracking up about nothing. It is contagious, after all.
2. SHOUT IT OUT
That's right, scream at the top of your lungs. This is basically the opposite of meditating, but like meditation, it is a fantastic way to relieve stress. Certain therapies even utilize screaming as a method to help heal past pains. We all repress our frustrations and anger all the time. It can take more than deep breaths and conscious visualization to clear out the negative energy. Don't you just need to scream sometimes? Find a safe place -- away from others -- where you feel comfortable letting go, and then let go. Yell, shout, flail, wail, release in any way that feels right. There's really no wrong way to yell it out.
3. SHAKE YOUR BOOTY
Are you ready to dance? Like meditation, dancing can help relieve stress, increase your energy and lift your spirits. Unlike meditation, it's also a full body workout and not the least bit boring. Just dance like nobody's watching, or like you don't care if anybody is. Be free, be silly, be wild, alone in your home or out on the town. Lose yourself in the music, be present in your body and shake what your mamma gave ya. There's always time in any day for some spontaneous boogie!
4. CLEAN IT
Have you washed dishes or dusted lately? Probably. Cleaning the house tends to be a necessity more than a passion, but it's possible to turn your household chores into a mindful meditation of their own. The key is in your intention. When you're washing the dishes, keep your mind focused on the act of washing dishes. Stay conscious throughout. The same goes for vacuuming, dusting, scrubbing, and everything else. Mantra meditation uses the repetition of a mantra as a path to mindfulness and stress reduction. Cleaning offers endless repetition. Tuning into the repetition of your chores will inevitably reduce stress and relax your mind. And you'll have a clean home too!
5. TAKE A STROLL
You may not be able to sit still and meditate for 20 minutes at a time, but you can probably put on some sneakers and take a 20-30 minute walk most days. Along with the innumerable physical rewards of walking, it also helps reduces stress, improve the immune system and has extensive cognitive benefits. Again, presence is the key to turning an ordinary walk into a walking meditation. Rather than getting lost in the thoughts of your mind, focus on your surroundings as you walk. Take in the sights, sounds and scents around you. Be present with your movement and conscious of your steps. Walk yourself into the now.
Meditation is wonderful -- really wonderful -- and though I believe it can benefit everyone, I don't think it will ever appeal to everyone. Nothing does. If you're like me and want to share in some of the important benefits of meditation without having to sit still and breathe deeply, give some of the above suggestions a try. Who knows, maybe they'll even get you closer to giving conventional meditation another chance.
What other activities in your life serve as a form of meditation to you? Let us know!