Alternative meditation techniques for those who hate sitting still
Let's start with a brief definition of meditation. Headspace defines meditation as "training in awareness" and "learning to observe thoughts and feelings without judgement". We often stereotype meditation as sitting cross-legged on the floor and chanting 'om'. In fact, there is more to it than meets the eye and comes in the form of various types of meditation:
Mindfulness meditation- focuses solely on sense and feelings in the moment.
Spiritual meditation- uses meditation to connect with a higher power, such as; God or the Universe.
Focused meditation- focuses intently on one object to hold your attention.
Movement meditation- meditation that involves movement, such as; Yoga and Tai Chi.
Mantra meditation- meditation involving the repetition of a word or phrase to help you stay focused.
Transcendental meditation- uses a mix of meditative techniques, such as Mantra and Yogic practices as founded by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.
Progressive relaxation- involves tensing a group of muscles as you breathe in and relaxing them as you breathe out.
Loving-kindness meditation- focuses on the cultivation of compassion.
Visualisation meditation- involves visualising a real or imagined scene/scenario to help focus your mind.
If you're someone who hates to sit still, then movement meditation is for you! An example of this is simply going for a walk and focusing on your breaths. Focus on the feeling of your heel and toes on the ground. Try to focus on the sensation of walking and pull your mind back if it begins to wander. This is a great way to help reduce stress/anxiety and increase your activity levels at the same time. Active meditation was founded by spiritual Guru Osho and is based on shifting focus from the mind to the heart and belly as a result of focusing on intuition and quieting the mind.
Tai Chi is another form of movement meditation that can improve mood, manage anxiety and help with posture and sleep. Another way to practice meditation is to 'move chaotically' by dancing around or jumping for a few minutes, focusing on how your body feels. Is your heart racing? Is your breathing faster than before? Take deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth, trying to make each exhale longer than each inhale (5 seconds in, 7 seconds out).
There are also meditation techniques that can be done as part of your daily routine. Next time you're in the shower, focus on the feeling of the water on your skin, the temperature, how your feet feel on the floor. Listen to the sound of the shower, and notice any other sounds you can hear inside or outside the bathroom. If your mind wanders, bring yourself back to the present by focusing on your senses. Even utilising this technique while you're waiting at a red traffic light on your journey back from a long day at work would do wonders for your mind.
All in all, meditation is about being in the present and taking time to be aware of your senses and the world around you, which doesn't always have to be done cross-legged on the floor. It is essential to try and take some time each day to escape worries about work, friends, money, or relationships and to deeply connect with your body and mind in the busy modern world. This can help with a range of difficulties, from poor mental health to everyday stress.
It's important to remember that meditation is a skill that's unlikely to be perfected straight away. The more you practice meditation, the easier it will become. Your mind is a muscle that needs to be exercised each day, just like any other body part. Try to start with 5-10 minutes of meditation each day, maybe dabble in a few different kinds and play around with it until you find a style of meditation and a routine that suits you.