When somebody talks about meditation, we often picture someone on a pillow, with their legs crossed and eyes closed. Because of this favored interpretation, a lot of individuals say they don’t have time to meditate. For some, they’re not sure of what they should be thinking. Others find it a real challenge to sit still.
Thankfully, this practice isn’t “one size fits all.” There are other techniques and methods for practicing mindfulness. Here are some alternatives that may align better with your preferences.
One familiar image of the Buddha is of him laughing. So why not follow his example?
Mindful laughter can provide you with a feeling of lightness against all the issues we deal with every day. It elevates our mood by physically releasing happy hormones that help lower our stress levels.
“Studies have revealed laughter has a powerful influence on our immune system, boosting our cells’ defenses against infection,” Nalin says. “When we laugh, certain brain neurochemicals, such as those responsible for our mood, are elevated, helping us attain a more positive state of mind.” – Dr. Nalin, PsyD.
Moreover, practicing laughter meditation with other people forms a connection or bond between you. Your shared experience of joy is a moment away from the rest of the world. Though you may feel embarrassed at first, letting go of inhibitions will help you get the most out of it.
Movement And Dance
There’s no better alternative to traditional meditation than something that involves more movement itself. Dancing is one way to achieve physical wellness as well as mindfulness. Focusing on your actions and the music pulls you away from the troubles of the world. Many classes will have you leave your ego behind and just let your body move as it wants. Dancing may include jumping and flailing your limbs around. The idea is not to focus too much on making the right steps but to just let go.
Dr. Lori Baudino, PsyD and a dance therapist for children, says that dancing does not have to include the dance itself but just movement. “What’s so incredible is that when I show them they are already capable of moving and they are moving, there’s so much acceptance, and so much excitement about the control that they have, that they are capable. Then across the board, what’s so magical is they do tend to move more.”
For those who may want something less intense, there’s also hand movement meditation. It may be tempting to want to go all-out-superhero like Doctor Strange. However, this form of therapy would focus on slowly moving your hands.
Daily Life Practice
Despite their mindfulness, the practitioners of Zen Buddhism recognize that we all have daily tasks and activities to which to attend. That is why many follow the concept of samu. This concept refers to physical work that they do while still focusing on their thoughts.
One quick way to practice this is to slow down your pace. Cleaning the house, cooking your dinner, and taking a shower can become your way of meditating. Find mindfulness in the most mundane activities.
Nicole Martinez, PsyD, LCPC, advises that it’s not a great idea to be stressed out first thing in the morning. She says, “What we’re most importantly trying to avoid is continually hitting the snooze button, and feeling rushed out the door. Take the time to set one alarm and wake up right away when it goes off.”
If you’re yearning for something more advanced, this Buddhist practice may be for you. Zen masters make use of the koan, a riddle, story, or statement that doesn’t have a direct answer. Unlike the mind-benders that we’re used to, these types are more like a philosophical question.
Arriving at an answer is not the point of the koan. It’s more about realizing that we sometimes cannot find a satisfying solution or end to something. Accepting such a reality is what helps us become more at peace.
When it comes to meditation, the experience doesn’t have to be the same for everyone. Though some people find that some quiet time works best for them, others will discover mindfulness through other forms. We can meditate through laughter, dance, philosophical riddles, and activities that we already partake in daily.
Finding the right one for you can bring each of us closer to the peace we all seek.