"Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive."
― Thich Nhat Hanh
The benefits of meditation and mindfulness are far reaching and have been well known for centuries. The practice has crossed cultures and broken down boundaries. In short, there is little doubt it can offer all of us much.
However, the idea of formal meditation and mindfulness practice does not sit well with many of us.
Mental pictures of chanting and yogis puts some off, as unfair and wide of the mark as these and other stereotypes are. This is a real shame as meditation has so many benefits for us all.
These benefits can include:
• Reduced stress
• Reduced feelings of anxiety
• More calm in our lives
• More relaxation
• More focus and clarity
• A better understanding of what we truly think/feel/want
• A better understanding of who we really are
This list is really just scratching the surface. The point is, meditating and mindfulness can be that powerful. So, if you are someone that shudders a little when the 'meditation' word is mentioned, here are four ways to achieve some of the benefits anyway.
At its best a long walk can be like moving meditation.
A good walk can refresh and rejuvenate a tired mind. It can provide stimulus and fertile ground for new ideas.Complex problems we've been struggling with can suddenly fall into place on a long walk.
Quietness and calm can come to a busy mind. Stress can melt away on the best of walks. A fresh perspective can often drift into view. A solution to an old problem can present itself.
Walking early in the morning with the songs of the birds, or walking later in the day can all work a certain type of magic. Walking at a swift, rhythmic pace or just purely for leisure. Walking with others or walking alone.
Make time to walk if you can and when you can. Walk for the sheer joy of the walk itself and free yourself of distractions.
2) Invest in the Outdoors and Nature
Nature and the world outdoors presents us with a constant wonderland. It's easy to take this for granted and not really take in the majesty of it all. We can fix this by spending more time really connected with nature and the great outdoors. We'll feel so much better for it.
Be amazed by that spider's web glistening with the morning's dew or the birds singing their song.
Look in awe at the clouds clearing over the mountain.
Notice the changes in season before the season really changes.
Celebrate in the new life of Spring babies (ducklings, birds etc) as we move from cold to warm.
Be inspired by nature's ability to evolve and deal with challenges.
3) Practice Being Mindful
Mindfulness might also be one of those words that makes some nervous. All it really means is taking the time to get in touch with our own thoughts. It's just cutting out the external world and noise for a while and tuning into frequency us.
Turn off the phone, unplug from the internet.
Disconnect a little to reconnect with ourselves.
4) Just Being
Just sit or lie and be. Let your mind drift. Let your problems and concerns just float away for a while. This might take some practice but it's worth investing the time.
All we're doing with all of the above is resetting a little. The art of meditating without meditating if you like.
Give it a go. String these resets together on a regular basis and feel the benefits. Who knows, maybe you'll even be open to further experiments in meditative practice after doing so. If not, just find your own way. Focus on the benefits you are looking to achieve and forget the labels.
This post is a refreshed version of one originally shared on my blog Frictionless Living.