Whether you have a regular meditation practice or not, you have probably heard from someone about how beneficial it can be. For many folks, it is life-changing. Meditating allows a person to connect with his/her higher self, to live in the moment, to de-stress, to relax, to manifest things like love, abundance, good health… overall, it’s a way to heal your soul.
Have you been thinking about starting a regular meditation practice, but don’t know where to begin? Or maybe you have been hesitant because you don’t like the idea of sitting cross-legged with your palms in mudra pose while chanting “oooohhhmmmm” for three hours?
Well did you know there are many different ways to meditate? And it’s possible you already are doing one or two of them.
1. Guided meditation
Guided meditation is when you listen to calming background music and/or a person who speaks soothingly to guide you through the short journey. This can be done live in person, by phone or video call, or with a recording.
If you’re interested in trying this, I suggest doing a search on YouTube for “guided meditation.” There are tens of thousands of hits for this popular subject, so you might try narrowing your search by adding another keyword like “beach”, “sleep”, “relax”, “abundance”, or really whatever term will fit your meditation goals. Be sure you listen to the clip in a few different spots before settling in, just to be sure you resonate with the message and the person talking. If your intuition tells you that it doesn’t feel quite right, select another recording.
Once you find a track you like, sit comfortably or lay down in a quiet space where you won’t be interrupted. Put your earbuds/headphones on, and just listen. And if you fall asleep, no worries! You will still reap the benefits of the meditation, even if you are not awake the entire time.
Keep in mind you don’t have to do guided meditations – you can just use a fitting music track and relax while you let your mind rest. This sounds really simple, but honestly it can be really hard to do! I have a difficult time moving my focus away from the worries of the day, but the imagery used in (good) guided meditations helps me to stay focused because the speaker will guide you through visualizations.
I also love doing YouTube meditations because I can decide easily whether I want to do a 10-minute meditation or a 45-minute one. If I’m having trouble sleeping, I can find one to help – sometimes I pick one that lasts several hours.
- The Honest Guys Meditations
- Jason Stephenson
- Hay House Daily Meditations
- Guided meditations on Amazon
2. Get out in nature
Spending time in nature can be very meditative! You can meditate by walking a nature trail, casually hiking up a mountain, leisurely biking through a park, on the lake in a rowboat, or if you’re lucky enough to live near one, a stroll along the beach. I once meditated while floating in the ocean!
To be most effective, eliminate distractions and remain calm. Walk at a normal or even slower-than-normal pace. Don’t be in a hurry! The point is to immerse yourself in the experience of nature.
I don’t recommend you bring your dog – the goal is to focus on your mind’s needs, and not have to take a break to clean up Fido’s mess. I personally prefer to go sans earbuds because I like to hear the bird-songs and the leaves rustling in the wind. But if you want to add music to your meditation, there is nothing wrong with that either!
Avoid an area in the park where you might hear people chatting on their cell phones, playing sports, or where there are a lot of young children running around who might distract you. I love to go out on a nearby river trail early in the morning, before most people get there. If it’s safe, going later in the evening when the sun is setting is often calmer and quieter as well. I did this recently and was rewarded by seeing fireflies – something I hadn’t seen since I was a child!
While moving through the natural space, fix your mind on nature. Be very intentional. I like to connect with the spirit of the plants and animals, it helps me keep in tune with them. Breathe in the fresh air, notice the lovely nature sounds surrounding you. Make note of the ground below you, the clouds above you, an insect flying by. If you happen to catch your mind wandering, just acknowledge the thought, then bring your focus back to your natural surroundings.
3. Create something
Did you know that painting is meditation? I actually never thought of it that way until I heard someone mention it on a podcast. It all made sense, of course! Painting is one of my favorite meditative practices, and it’s not expensive – all you need are a few brushes, some paints and a canvas or paper.
Of course the same goes for drawing/sketching, sculpting, coloring, cooking, sewing… the list goes on. I recently learned about a group in my community that likes to paint decorative rocks with loving messages, then leave them around town for others to find. How sweet is that?
It should be said that some forms of arts and crafts may not make for the best meditation – like woodworking and things where you might need heavy and noisy equipment – but that’s just me. If doing those things brings you to a relaxed, meditative state, then so be it!
The important thing here is that you don’t get hung up on perfecting your work. The process of creating is the actual meditation.
4. Walking meditation
This practice is similar to traditional meditation, except you are actually walking throughout the process. Make sure you have sufficient space, but you can do it in your own home or back yard. In fact, it would be difficult to do in a public place without breaking your concentration or having someone call the authorities. Check out Jack Kornfield’s description of the practice at this link.
5. Flow movement for your body
I’m talking about yoga, tai chi, dancing, etc. Of course, there are meditative forms of yoga, but even just attending a yoga class is enough for me to get centered and relaxed. Gentle body movements help you to relax your mind, and when you practice these in a group setting, you are aligning your spirit with the spirits of others. You can likely find classes through your city’s parks & recreation department, local community Facebook groups, or through meetup.com. If you prefer to be alone, there are tons of videos on YouTube you can follow for free!