I am a big believer in meditation and the benefit it has for recovery (which is why we mention it quite often on the website). Too often, though, we think we need to have a meditation room and fold ourselves into lotus position to even attempt it. Bu it’s just simply not the case. You can meditate whenever, wherever, and you don’t even have to sit down to do it! This means that pretty much everyone can give meditation a try—even if you have two kids, three dogs, and a parakeet!
“I struggled and pushed myself to meditate properly with little success, until I realized that any act can be a meditation” (From How to Meditate at Any Time without Meditating by Amanda Cook).
Meditation Is Here and Now
When meditating, you just slow down. You take a moment to quiet your world, and then center your focus on your own body and mind—making a connection with the here and now. Do you know that saying, ‘When you are depressed you live in the past, when you are anxious you live in the future?’ It may be an oversimplification, but the act of keeping your focus on the present can really help to manage your well-being.
And don’t think for a moment that meditation is only about controlling your breath and changing your posture. Sometimes it is. And sometimes it is just about noticing your breath and posture—the barking of the dog next door, the feeling of the upholstery against your arm, or the smell of the grass that has just been cut. Here. Now.
“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh
For me, reestablishing my connection to what is happening in the moment makes me feel more balanced. More in control. This is what helps me deal with triggers and memories when they overwhelm me. And it also helps me quiet the anxiety when I hear my abusive mother’s voice in my head.
“Even short stints of meditation have a positive effect on the brain’s ability to concentrate. That in turn makes it easier to focus, retain memories, and be more productive. On a more circumstantial level, meditation can also help you avoid information overload to help reduce the amount of noisy news around you all the time” (From Is Meditation Really Beneficial, or Is It Just Ridiculous? by Thorin Klosowski).
Meditation Without Meditating
I know meditation is not for everyone. And even if you do enjoy the practice, life sometimes just gets in the way. Luckily there are so many activities—that are not what we traditionally consider meditation—available to us that give us that give us the same opportunity to slow down and connect. Give them a try and find out which ones fit best around your family, responsibilities, and life in general!
“You can manifest an informal practice within your daily habits. You don’t have to change your routine all that much: All it takes is tweaking your intention” (From How To Meditate Without Meditating At All by Kate Bratskeir).
They are gaining so much popularity, and rightly so. Sitting down with a coloring page and getting busy with your felt tips is a great way to meditate. Bonus: you can do this together with the kids, too (provided you have some, of course). I am so keen on coloring. So much so that I even created a specific SwanWaters coloring book for you. You can download it for free!
Doing the Dishes
Actually it can be any cleaning task around the house. And the great thing is that chores have to get done anyway. So doing these chores in a conscious way means that you can kill two birds with one stone! The trick to any of these activities is to be mindful; try to be aware of your movements, the sensation of the warm water against your hands, and the different surfaces you are touching, etc.
“What these activities have in common is the opportunity to pay attention to sense perceptions in the present moment: what one can see, hear, smell, taste or touch” (From Practicing Mindfulness Without Meditating by Karen Kissel Wegela Ph.D.).
Take a Walk (or a Run)
Go outside. Take the dog for a walk. Go for a run—and leave your phone and ipod home. Just listen to the sounds around you, see the trees, and notice the wildlife. Focus on how it feels when your foot meets the pavement, how your breathing changes, and the way the breeze feels on your face.
Cook or Bake
Cooking or baking is a great way to connect with yourself. I especially like baking bread because it gets my hands in there. Whatever you chose to make, make it by hand. No mechanical short-cuts—so the food-processor and mixer stay packed away! It about being in the process of cooking.
“In all examples, the technique is to savor every moment of what you’re doing instead of letting your mind wander (as it naturally wants to)” (From Meditate Without Sitting Still: Turn Everyday Actions into a Practice by Melanie Pinola).