Did you know that people who took meditation classes had 48% lower risk of stroke, heart attack, and premature death? That’s a scientific fact that leaves no space for doubt: we should all start meditating!
The benefits of meditation are so enormous!
One of the most well-known meditative techniques, called zazen meditation, is doing a very simple thing: sitting. Nothing more, nothing less. Just sit and free your mind from all thoughts that burden it. It seems simple, doesn’t it? If you’ve tried it, you know that it’s also the hardest thing in the world.
Meditation: the simplest or the hardest thing in the world?
Meditation masters would have a good laugh at Rene Descartes for saying, “I think, therefore I am.”
They perceive things differently: when you don’t think, you are. When the mind is free of all that mess that burdens it, only then you can start understanding the nature of existence.
Meditation masters have many years of practice and persistence behind them, so it doesn’t take long for them to get into meditative state. In fact, they maintain that state throughout the day, no matter what they do. For us, normal people, the attempt to meditate looks differently.
My knee hurts from this posture. My back, too. Maybe I should just lay down.
What will I eat tonight?
I should really call Becky.
Wait, I should empty my mind. You can do this. The force is strong with you. Ommmm… this room smells like sweat.
You get the picture. The mind seems like a beast that’s impossible to conquer. For most people, it takes years and years of practice to get to the level when they can truly experience that empty space in meditation. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t make an attempt. However, your practice should be aimed at more ‘mundane’ techniques, which will slowly make your mind focused without torturing it.
We offer 5 alternatives to meditation you can try with no delays.
Adult colouring books are awesome! Get one and spend at least half an hour colouring before bedtime. Most of these books feature relaxing patterns that ‘hypnotise’ your mind. Don’t worry; it’s not hypnosis. Your eyes will be drawn into the pattern, and your mind will be focused on colouring.
Suddenly, you notice something strange: you’re so focused that you can’t think of anything else.
See? You’re meditating already.
2. Classical music
When you listen to the beautiful works of your favourite composers, different kinds of emotions start breaking through the armour. At one point or another, your mind becomes empty and you’re consumed into the music.
From the sonorous sounds of Bach’s preludes to the passionate moments in Rachmaninoff’s concertos, classical music has the power to remind you that the world is beautiful. Humanity is beautiful. You are beautiful!
3. Hatha yoga
Meditation (dhyana) is part of the classical system of yoga, explained in Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra.
However, before the practitioner gets to that point, they need to go through preparation methods. Asana, the physical practice, is one of them. If you try looking for a yoga centre in your area, you’ll come across different styles of yoga.
Why do we suggest Hatha yoga, then? Because it’s gentle and slow, and it allows you to focus on every single movement you make. Some people find this style boring, because it’s not as attractive as the photos of Instagram yogis present yoga to be.
With Hatha yoga, it’s you, your body, your breath, and your mind.
With practice, your mind will focus on nothing else but the movements, and you’ll be consumed by the presence. That’s meditation in movement.
Breathing itself can be turned into a meditative practice. All you need to do is sit down in a comfortable posture, with your spine as elongated as possible, and your shoulders relaxed. It will take some Hatha yoga practice before you can maintain this position comfortably, but you’ll get there eventually.
Now, breathe! Breathe in, breathe out. Don’t think about anything else; just follow your breath without trying to control it. Some thoughts will run through your mind, but don’t pay attention to them. If you notice you’re getting carried away by thoughts, bring your mind back to the breath.
Breathing techniques are a very good sample of relaxation techniques.
5. The practice of gratitude
With meditation, your heart expands and you start loving the world that surrounds you. All techniques of meditation eventually teach you how to appreciate all people, animals, every tree and every leaf around you. The practice of gratitude has pretty much the same effect.
But, you have to turn it into a habit. Be grateful for waking up in the morning. Be grateful for the people in your life. When someone gets on your nerves, be grateful for the awesome personality traits they have and try to focus on that positive side. Express your gratitude. A simple smile and a hug is enough.
Meditation is important for personal progress. If it’s too much for you at this moment, it doesn’t mean you can’t practice it. The alternatives explained above are pretty simple, so you can start practicing them right now!
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Author: Robert Morris
Robert Morris is a freelance writer and personal development coach. He helps people to overcome difficulties and to reach their goals. He is currently working as a writer at NinjaEssays.com.