7 Meditation Alternatives + Mindfulness Techniques to Find Your Zen
Meditation is great – or so everyone on social media wants you to believe. And sure, if you can stick with it, you’ll see some major benefits to your concentration, memory, emotions, and general sense of wellbeing.
It can change your life! We all know it’s true.
But what if you secretly, deep down, maybe-kinda-sorta absolutely dread the thought of meditating? Never fear.
Despite what you or some may think, practicing a meditation alternative or simple mindfulness techniques can provide a similar sense of calm and a similar slowing down of your physical body and emotions.
After all, meditation became popular in our culture in response to how fast-paced, stressful, and overbooked our lives have become. Remove some of those stressors and find other ways to embrace your calm. You can scratch the same itch without all the sitting with your eyes closed.
Here Are 7 Meditation Alternatives and Mindfulness Techniques to Relieve Stress:
Practice one of these mindfulness techniques or pick your favorite meditation alternative to achieve some calm without having to straight-up meditate.
1. Walk It Out
Walking is inherently meditative. Think about it: The rhythm of left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot is a similar back-and-forth rhythm to breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. Plus, you don’t go very fast when you walk, so you’re more likely to notice the minutiae of your surroundings.
For the full meditative benefit of walking, don’t listen to music or a podcast while you walk – just focus on being in the moment.
Love this idea? Check out these 4 Types of Walking Meditations
2. Sit and Watch the Grass Grow
My parents have a fox that lives in their yard. Whenever I go to visit, I sit on the front porch hoping the fox will appear. Usually, it doesn’t, and I spend the time just listening to the tiny rustlings of the leaves and watching shadows move.
By the time I go back inside, I feel more connected to nature, my breathing is slowed, and I feel calm – much like after a meditation session.
And on the rare occasion I do catch a glimpse of the fox? It’s all the more special. You don’t need a fox, of course. Practice watching the birds, squirrels, and insects or simply watch the grass grow. Just be sure to leave your mobile phone indoors. And speaking of which . . .
3. Go Phone-Free
Whether it’s for an hour while you’re cooking dinner, all day each Sunday, or for a whole week straight just to prove you can, going without your smartphone will have a serious impact on your state of mind.
We often don’t realize how much those dings and buzzes train us to be only half paying attention to whatever we’re doing, and half waiting for the next dopamine hit produced by a text, comment, or like.
Going without your smartphone will have a serious impact on your state of mind.
But the thing is, half attention is not truly half. What you’re actually doing is a form of multitasking – switching back and forth very, very quickly, over and over, between your phone and the conversation you’re having, child you’re playing with, or work you’re trying to produce.
And those constant switches are exhausting and stressful, much more so than we consciously realize. Turn it off, retrain your brain, and reap the rewards.
Feeling motivated? Maybe you’re ready for a digital detox! Follow These 6 Steps for a Much-Needed Digital Detox
4. Listen to Music
Music has all sorts of very tangible benefits, from reducing anxiety to improving blood vessel function. Music can help you get your heart rate up for a workout, but it can also slow it back down to relax – much like a meditation session.
So if you’re looking to experience some of the benefits of meditation without sitting still, put on your favorite slow song, sway to the beat, and let the music carry you away.
5. Listen to a Guided Meditation
Is this a copout in an article about not meditating? Maybe.
But there’s a big difference between silent meditation and a guided audio. So if you’ve never tried the latter, give it a chance. There are many different types of meditation, so sometimes it’s really just a matter of finding the one that works for you.
Need a good guided meditation to get you started? Try this Guided Pranayama and Mindfulness Meditation for a Calm and Peaceful Mind (Video)
6. Leave the House 15 Minutes Early
I know, I know, you try! But if you can make it a habit, getting from place to place (whether you’re driving, walking, biking, or busing) can be a relaxing, meditative experience rather than a stressful one.
When you’re not in a hurry, you have time to notice the small things. Watch the interactions between people you pass. Notice the frog hopping through the grass beside you. Or read the funny flyers on the telephone pole.
You’ll naturally find yourself being more generous (for example, letting people in front of you in traffic or stopping to help someone in need) when you’re not in a rush.
7. Learn to Trust Your Intuition
One of the benefits of meditation is that it helps us tune into the small, quiet messages our body and mind are giving us about what we need. Sometimes it’s big needs, like leaving our job to travel the world. And sometimes it’s small ones, like taking a short walk to help us wake up or refocus.
Either way, these are insights you don’t have to gain through meditation alone. Your intuition is telling you what you need all the time. But most people just aren’t listening very often.
Learning to tune into all those little messages within you is possibly the most worthwhile pursuit you can engage in.
Use These Meditation Alternatives and Mindfulness Techniques to Find Your Own Zen
If you just can’t seem to get into meditation, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you have to run around stressed out all the time, either. Try out some of these mindfulness techniques and see how you feel. Practice a meditation alternative and observe the aftermath.
And let me know what you think . . . I’ll be the one sitting in the park, watching the squirrels and finding Zen.