The traditional form of mediation emphasizes breathing and intentionally focusing the mind on a particular object or thought. The goal of meditation is to achieve a mentally clear and emotionally calm state. While this sounds nice, the reality of the matter is we live in a face paced world. There is not always time to practice a full mediation routine! Moreover, some people are totally turned off by the idea of mediation. It might feel difficult to sit still for a long period of time or focus too hard on how your body or mind feels. The good news is that there are things you can do every day that will help achieve a calmer state of mind, and there is no traditional mediation involved!
- Take a walk
Aside from the cardiovascular benefits of moderate exercise, there are tremendous benefits is has on the brain. So, rather than reaching for your phone or getting onto social media during a break in your day, take a walk! Even if it is just for ten minutes, walking outside facilitates greater awareness of your surroundings. Ask yourself: what do you see, smell, feel, taste, and hear while you are walking? Upon observing these things, you will quiet the mind by simply increasing awareness of what is happening around you.
- Practice mindfulness during routine activities
Let’s start with an example of the act of brushing your teeth. It’s something most of us do every day, and it can be rather boring. Most of us probably do it in a rush and are already thinking about the next task we have to do for the day without even focusing on the process itself. As you can see, the mind is already racing ahead of itself here! At first, it might seem silly, but try to take a simple, every task such as brushing your teeth and practice focusing your attention on the sensations around you. What can you see? What is the color of the toothpaste? How does it feel around your gums? With this, the brain will have a defined framework to focus its attention. Hence, even if just for a moment, the mind will calm and you can find yourself in the present moment without the stress of the day weighing you down.
Breathing keeps us alive; yet, it is something we often forget we are even doing! Take a moment in your day, and simply focus on your breath. Experts recommend something called the 4-7-8 breathing exercise. It takes very little time, no equipment, and can be done anywhere. Here’s how it is done: a) start by exhaling all your air b) close your mouth and inhale through your nose to the count of four. c) hold your breath for a count of seven. d) open your mouth and exhale for a count of eight. This can be calming and energizing, which allow you to return to a better state of mind.
Especially in the midst of a bad day or stressful event, it easy to slip into a negative and dark mindset. Remembering what is going well for you and what you are grateful for is a simple technique that may help you re-frame your thoughts or situation. With this, you are making yourself more aware of what is bringing you happiness in life and what you are thankful for in the present moment. When you are able to focus on the good of a moment, the mind tends to calm down as you experience a deeper sense of fulfillment.
As you can see based on these four suggestions, you can achieve a calmer mind state without actually spending hours on a yoga mat or sitting still! So next time you find yourself running around trying to keep pace with life, don’t forget you can take a few minutes to mediate without practicing mediation.
Written by Danielle Wahl, M.A.
Danielle Wahl, MA is a Licensed Professional Counselor Candidate in the state of Colorado.
She has experience working with eating disorders, depression, anxiety, trauma, and various other mental health diagnoses and has worked in full and partial hospital settings, residential treatment centers, and traditional settings. She has specific training in Cognitive Behavioral Thearpy ( CBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), EMDR and neurofeedback.