As you may have heard, meditation is really good for you. Study upon study suggests that the ancient practice of relaxing the mind benefits us in countless ways, from reducing the stress response to alleviating anxiety and depression and more.
So why do you hate the idea of doing it so much? It may be because you’re thinking about it too rigidly.
You don’t need to sit quietly with your eyes closed in a dark room for 30 minutes to meditate, says Cecily Milne, yoga and meditation teacher and founder of The Yoga Element and the Lake of Bays Yoga Studio. “I think a lot of people get hung up on this concept of having to sit still for a long time and do nothing and think about nothing and both of those things are really difficult to do and not that appealing.”
Meditation is not a rigid formula. It’s just cultivating a “present” state of mind. “It’s being fully aware,” says Milne. “It doesn’t mean closing your eyes and emptying your mind.”
In short, meditation is just chilling out, sitting back, and listening to your body and your mind without judgment.
Here are Milne’s tips on meditating for people who hate meditation.
1. Get moving
People who work desk jobs are often the most reluctant to sit still, says Milne. And who can blame them. “They spend a lot of time sitting as is.” Milne’s solution: try moving meditation.
Yoga is perhaps the best example of a form of movement that blends aspects of meditation. “Yoga is designed to put people in the zone,” says Milne. But you can also get in the “zone” while running, or walking, or cycling, as long as you approach the activity with the intention of inducing a state of calm focus rather than getting amped up. So, perform a gentle jog rather than hill work or sprints. “Go out at a rhythm that is comfortable for your body to maintain where it feels like you’re not punishing yourself.”
As in yoga, focusing on your breathing is an effective tool in calming the mind. You don’t need to do anything fancy either; just observe your breathing, focusing on the inhalation and the exhalation as you move.
2. Meditate during your commute
Don’t have time to jog or cycle, or do a yoga class, meditatively? Then just take a deep breath at a red light, says Milne. Or breathe your way through a train delay.
Meditation can be as simple as “one deep breath” says Milne. “We get really caught up on the idea that we have to do something a certain way and for this much time,” says Milne. Don’t stress about the fact that you don’t have enough time to meditate. “Just do whatever you can do. It’ll make a difference.”
3. Put your feet up
We all have our preferred coping mechanisms for stress, especially after a long day at work. But before you head to the pantry in search of nachos, or slide into another Netflix marathon, lay on the floor and put your legs up against the wall for five or ten minutes. It’s a restorative yoga pose and one that feels really good after a day spent walking in heels.
“Chill out and just breathe,” says Milne. No OM required.