Updated: Oct 15
For those with ever-active minds like mine, traditional meditation can feel daunting. The challenge isn't always the act itself but the expectation that comes with it. Yet, mindfulness isn't confined to silence or stillness. Here are six alternatives that have helped me stay anchored in the present, especially when just embarking on this journey.
1. Hiking in nature
My personal favorite. The tranquility of nature, whether enjoyed solo or with like-minded company, offers an unparalleled peace. Engaging our senses during a hike not only grounds us but also strengthens our bond with nature. While meditation can sometimes heighten my anxieties, nature consistently offers serenity. Immersed in the wilderness, I naturally anchor myself in the present moment. The therapeutic effects of nature are well-documented; for instance, David Strayer's research highlights the cognitive benefits from just three days spent outdoors. Stay tuned for a dedicated post on mindful hiking.
2. Tune into Your Body
Return to your senses. Whether it's the feel of a cool breeze, the fragrance of blooming jasmine, or the taste of a zesty orange peel, being attuned to bodily sensations can be a refreshing mental pause. Even during workouts, shift your focus from future tasks to the current sensations in your body, observing without judgment. This non-judgmental observation lies at the heart of mindfulness.
3. Be a Food Connoisseur
Next time you dine, transform into a gourmet critic. Appreciate the aesthetics, aroma, and flavors. Slow down, savor each bite, and let drinks swish around your mouth. This approach not only enhances the culinary experience but can also benefit digestion and potentially promote healthier eating habits.
4. Engage Wholeheartedly with Others
Present yourself fully to those around you. When conversing, disconnect from digital distractions, maintain eye contact, listen intently, and respond with authenticity. Instead of rushing to "fix" things, sometimes just being there, genuinely present, is enough.
5. Live with Purpose Daily
Before diving into the day's hustle, pause. Reflect on what truly matters. With clarity on core values, even mundane tasks can become purposeful endeavors.
6. Reflect, Write, Capture
End your day with contemplation. Jot down achievements, express gratitude, or click a picture of something that moved you. This practice helps in solidifying memories and acknowledging the beauty in everyday moments.
In my experience, while seated meditation may not resonate with everyone, countless pathways lead to mindfulness. Maybe for you, it's in savoring a meal outdoors or losing yourself in a captivating book. Remember, the essence lies in present-moment awareness, regardless of the medium.
CMHC offers Mindfulness Coaching by certified Mindfulness Teacher