We all know by now that meditation is good for the ol’ brain. In fact, meditation seems to be the cure for just about anything these days (that and coconut oil). But what if you’ve tried meditation and it just doesn’t quite vibe with you?
If you’ve given meditation a fair shot (and by fair shot I mean at least 2-3 times) and you just can’t seem to make it your BFF, there are plenty of other practices that help cultivate mindfulness.
Why would you want to cultivate mindfulness anyway?
Well, my friend. Because mindfulness improves your physical and mental health, helps reduce stress, and allows you to be more compassionate, non-judgmental, and open-minded. It’s a freakin’ awesome tool for helping you live life to it’s fullest potential.
Many people are under the impression that meditation and mindfulness are synonymous, when in reality mindfulness is a state of being and meditation is simply a practice to help cultivate mindfulness.
That basically means that you can totally practice mindfulness even if you struggle with meditation. For anyone who’s thinking, “That is totally me, Sista!”, here are five ways to practice mindfulness that don’t involve traditional meditation.
Nature walks are probably my favorite form of mindfulness because they give you the opportunity to explore. Rather than walking because you need to get somewhere in particular or because you want to walk a certain number of miles, this practice gives you time and space to take in your surroundings and observe what’s going on around you.
To make the most of your nature walk:
- Find a trail or park with few distractions.
- Turn your phone off or leave it in the car.
- As you walk, observe the colors, shapes, sounds, smells, and even the feeling of what’s around you.
Related Post: How To Add More Mindfulness Into Your Everyday
The practice of yoga itself is generally considered to be a mindfulness practice, but sometimes a fast-flowing practice can cause more frustration than mindfulness. Yin Yoga is a much slower form of yoga that targets the connective tissues of the body such as bones, ligaments, and joints. Basically you hold the poses for a lot longer (anywhere from 1-20 minutes) than in other forms of yoga, which gives you the opportunity to focus on what you’re doing, breath into the poses, and remain in the present moment.
To make the most of Yin Yoga:
- Get yourself some pillows, blankets, and a bolster if available.
- Ask yourself how each position feels (relieving, satisfying, blissful). If it hurts, try another position.
- Breathe deeply into each pose to get a deeper stretch.
Adult coloring books are definitely having a moment right now, and for good reason! Coloring brings back joyful memories of being young and carefree, and this practice also has the power to distract you from and reduce stressful thoughts. Another great practice is drawing and coloring mandalas which can supposedly have a hypnotic-like effect on people. Both of these practices give your busy mind a break and let your creative side flourish.
To make the most of coloring:
- Set an intention for your practice (ex. wanting to feel more compassionate, grateful, creative).
- Choose a coloring design that is visually appealing to you.
- Focus on your intention throughout the coloring process.
Qigong (pronounced chee-gung) is an ancient Chinese practice that incorporates physical movement, breathing techniques, and focused intention. Qigong is similar to Tai Chi, but the main difference is that Qigong is the repetition of a single movement rather than a series of moves in a sequence (aka it’s a lot easier and takes less mastery).
To make the most of Qigong:
- Find a video to follow like the one above.
- Repeat each move with purpose and intention.
- Don’t worry if you lose balance. Just keep going!
Body Scan Meditation
Unlike traditional meditation where the focus is mainly on the breath, the body scan involves bringing attention to various body parts and any sensations that are occurring. Often we take for granted all of the incredible things our body can do without ever acknowledging that it’s happening, so the body scan gives us a moment to be present with our body and notice where we are relaxed and where we are tense or aching. I recommend downloading the Rituals app and doing one of their body meditations.
To make the most of Body Scan Meditation:
- Sit or lay in a comfortable and quiet spot.
- Be present with your body as you notice how each area feels.
- Breathe into any areas of discomfort, and try not to fidget.
Which of these practices are you most intrigued by? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!