The idea that meditation must be carried out in lotus position, no longer matches the modern-day perception.
While the practice of meditation in the traditional sense is still very popular, what was once perceived as a sacred spiritual practice is now being viewed more as a way of life. Meditation has taken root in many areas of life – businesses have adopted it to improve efficiency, and schools across America have introduced it to reduce stress and increase focus.
Also known for its health benefits, meditation helps lower blood pressure and strengthens the immune system.
Other Benefits of Meditation
- calms the mind
- improves focus
- decreases stress
- creates inner peace
- increases present moment awareness
- calms the body
- improves performance
Most recently, traditional forms of meditation seem to have been overshadowed by more gentle styles, of which there are no rules or regulations. The purpose of meditation is to calm the mind and release rigidity, which is why a laid-back approach aligns more suitably with its purpose.
Mastering the art of meditation has never been easier – here are some alternative ways to meditate:
Adult Colouring Books
Art has always been known for its therapeutic qualities but in the last year adult colouring books have become a global phenomenon. Helping to lower stress and unearth creativity, whilst also calming the mind, adult colouring books are a great relaxation tool – it’s no surprise that they are no longer reserved just for children.
Frequently at the top of Amazon’s best sellers lists, there are some beautiful colouring books available, many of which are of a mindfulness nature, and some include beautiful quotes. You can find yourself getting lost for hours in the colours and patterns, while giving your mind a much-needed rest.
Focus on Your Breathing
Breathing techniques are one of the easiest ways to begin meditating for two reasons, the first being that it’s simple to learn. And secondly, it can be practised pretty much anywhere.
I’m going to explain a breathing exercise to you, and the intention is to calm the mind and create present moment awareness by diverting your focus from your thoughts, to your breathing. For the short moments that you do this, you will experience freedom from the mind, (even if only for a few seconds).
Sitting in a comfortable position, pay attention to your breath – feel the air flow into your body and notice how it flows back out as you exhale. Pay particular attention to the sensations you feel as the air hits your nose on the way in and gently brushes past your lips as it leaves. Notice the speed at which you are breathing, and listen to your breath as it flows in and out – this will bring you into a full state of presence.
Live in the Moment
The aim of most meditation techniques is to help increase present moment awareness but rather than practise it sporadically, living in the present is something I suggest trying to maintain.
When we are in a state of presence, we are not thinking about troubling thoughts of the past, or worrying thoughts of the future. And we also feel more appreciation for everything in our lives, as we take notice of our surroundings.
There are many ways to achieve a state of present awareness, and there’s a full post about this here, but my favourite is to simply pay attention to what is happening right now.
Close your eyes for a few seconds and as you open them, look around you, absorb all of your surroundings and notice every detail – from the sights, to the smells and sounds, and even the energy – awaken your senses and pay attention.
Connect With Nature
“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.” –Amit Ray
Connecting with nature is a brilliant form of meditation; taking a walk whilst embracing the sheer beauty of nature, or going for a swim in the ocean – which is humbling with its enormity – helps us to appreciate the world and feel more grateful for the natural miracles that exist all around us.
Nature also helps us to feel grounded because it reminds us that we are one species alongside many other, and each have equal right to live peacefully here on earth, which gives us a more compassionate perspective.
Take time regularly to spend with nature, which of course includes animals. Not only will you see changes in your mood, your mind will be calmer and you will have a heightened sense of awareness.
“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future; live the actual moment. Only this moment is life.” -Thich Nhat Hanh
When Buddhism was introduced to China (206 BC-220), tea quickly became a large component of meditation, and it has since been used in many cultures for its excellent calming qualities. The ordinary and relaxing nature of tea make it an ideal form of meditation.
Make a cup of your favourite tea – here are Five Soul-Warming Tea Recipes that you might like to try – and get yourself into a relaxed position. With the cup in the palms of your hands, breathe in, focus the mind on the body and become fully present in the here and now. As you sip your tea you will likely feel an increased sense of joy and alertness, and a sense of calmness in the mind.
Some people spend a whole hour drinking a cup of tea because they find it such an enjoyable experience.