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6 mindful alternatives to meditation

6 mindful alternatives to meditation

We’ve all heard about the power of meditation. Once solely a spiritual endeavor for Yogis and Buddhist monks, this mindfulness practice has become mainstream with everyone from kids to business CEOs reaping the benefits. Meditation has shown to decrease stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure, aid in sleep, improve memory and attention span, and lead to a better overall emotional well-being.  

As effective as meditation may be, the practice of sitting still and being quiet for a length of time just isn’t something that appeals to everyone. If you’re seeking a mindfulness practice, meditation isn’t the only option. Here are six other ways to clear your mind and be in the moment:

When life is hectic, meditation gives us a chance to step back and slow down. It’s much the same for yoga. Yoga doesn’t rush. It’s a set of careful, conscious movements that require attention to the present moment. Breathe, let go of judgement and release negative thoughts. When your mind begins to wander, lead it back to your practice. Focus on your breathing and every deliberate move yoga requires. 

For most people, cleaning is a less than desirable chore. But if you’re able to lose yourself in the activity, it can be a meditative experience. Instead of telling yourself how much you hate to vacuum, for instance, just focus on the action itself. Watch as the vacuum cleaner picks up dirt from the carpet. Listen to the sound it makes. Feel it vibrate in your hand. It may seem silly, but immersing ourselves in everyday tasks like cleaning can help calm the mind and remind us to be aware in the present moment.

The benefits of listening to music are pretty similar to meditation. It reduces stress and improves mood. It can even aid in sleep and memory. When you listen to music that you enjoy, you’re in the moment. You’re following the melodies, keeping up with the rhythms, and maybe evening humming or singing along. To make your musical experience even more meditative, create some noise yourself — bang on a hand drum, shake some maracas, or strike a Tibetan singing bowl.

Getting your thoughts on paper can feel like a literal clearing of the mind. Sit in a quiet spot with your notepad or sketchbook and write or draw whatever comes out, completely free of judgement. No erasers allowed! When your brain feels like a cluster of mixed emotions, subconscious feelings, or uncertainty, letting your thoughts flow freely can help you sort through it all and give yourself a sense of relief. 

There’s something about dancing that’s very spiritual. Your body becomes one with the music. You lose yourself in the sound and let your movement take over. It’s no wonder that dancing is an important part of every society, all over the world. Dancing has had a place in the religious rituals of tribal cultures for eons. It continues to be used as a spiritual practice to this day, but the power of meditative dancing is something you can discover alone in your room too. Put on your favorite song and let your body go.

Exercise and meditation have a lot in common. They both offer some amazing benefits to the body and the mind. Many runners, for instance, would consider their regular jogs to be acts of mindfulness. You need to be in the moment, aware of your surroundings, and paying attention to your body. Of course, you don’t have to be a serious athlete for exercise to be your meditation. Go for a walk outside. Just a 20-minute stroll can help you de-stress, recharge and be mindful.