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7 Alternative Ways to Meditate for Beginners

7 Alternative Ways to Meditate for Beginners

 

7 Alternative Ways to Meditate for Beginners

According to doctors and medical professionals it is now clear that we should be meditating as it has been recognized for its healing properties and calming effects on the body. We hereby present 7 alternative ways to meditate for beginners.

However, this does not mean that we have to sit still and quiet the mind to actually meditate.

Many have never tried meditation cause it seems boring and weird at first glance. The good news is that there are various ways to meditate and this is what this article is all about. The conventional method of meditation is not for everyone, so we hereby present 6 alternative ways to meditate. This can be a good entry point in the world of meditation. Perhaps after feeling the benefits of meditating through these alternative methods you will be more inclined to go deeper and get into the conventional approach.

What Is Meditation?

What is meditation? According to its definition, to meditate means:

  • to engage in contemplation or reflection;
  • to engage in mental exercise (such as concentration on one's breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of spiritual awareness.

Eckhart Tolle: What Is Meditation?

Eckhart Tolle describes the meaning of meditation as to be in the present time. Please watch the short video below.

 

Meditation as an Act of Love, Deep Warm Friendship to Yourself

The trick is to do one thing a day with absolute mindfulness. It has been proposed to do something you love and relaxing instead of trying to stay still and keep the mind quiet for extended periods of time.

Don’t meditate to fix yourself, to heal yourself, to improve yourself, to redeem yourself; do it as an act of love, deep warm friendship to yourself. In this way there is no longer any need for the subtle aggression of self-improvement, for the endless guilt of not doing enough. It offers a possibility to the end of the ceaseless round of trying so hard that wraps so many people’s lives in a knot. Instead there is now meditation as an act of love. How endlessly delightful and encouraging.”
 
~ Bob Sharples, Meditation and Relaxation in Plain English

 

 
There are many ways to meditate without actually meditating, here are some of them.

List of Alternative Ways to Meditate

1) Listen to Music

Try to hear every instrument in the band. Separate the lyrics from the melody — listen to something instrumental, if you can. Sing along, and feel your body vibrate with the hum of sound.

Should I Listen to Music When I Meditate? by Eckhart Tolle

 

2) Practice of an Instrument

Music practice as a form of meditation is not a new idea and much has been written about cultures relating to music in this way, such as India with its raga / meditation connection. Any musician, regardless of degree of ability or experience, can use music practice as meditation and meditation as a means of deepening music practice. The key is concentration. Focused concentration with complete (laser type but relaxed) attention to the situation whether it is with composed (notated, graphic, verbal, etc.) or completely free improvised music. This is not meditation in the sense of a transcendent state of “no mind” but a meditation of completely absorbed concentration. This intense but relaxed concentration should have the music you are practicing as the single object of the awareness. As well as increasing your ability on your instrument through the benefits of focused / concentrated practice, you are also designing a sanctuary within yourself were you can go which is away from or outside your normal state of active mind. Over time the periods of concentration should become longer and deeper and easier to access. Of course, access to a state of deep, concentrated awareness is also very valuable in live performance situations as well as practice not only to reap the riches deep within the sound but also to cut-off / exclude the many other distractions which go along with live performance. These distractions could include certain acoustics, sound systems, lights, air (or lack of), audience (or lack of), etc. It does not matter if it's in your practice studio or in concert, the key is to develop a way of easy access into this sharp, clear, relaxed, awake, peaceful and concentrated state of mind.

Here are a few ideas that may help:

  • Relaxed posture. Making sure there are no obstacles affecting the flow of energy such as having the shoulders raised unnecessarily, a bent neck or any other forms of body tension;
  • Start practice before you actually begin to play by being clear and focused on what you are about do. Know exactly what material you are about to work on. Of course the exception to this would be free / spontaneous improvising, although any form of improvising also requires an alert state of mind;
  • Prepare the area where you are to practice or perform so that you are comfortably situated for clear and focused work;
  • Take a moment before beginning to play to do some deep breathing and release any tension in the body and also release the mind from any thoughts not pertaining to the work you are about to do;
  • When learning new material, start at a slow tempo so that the material can be well understood through clear execution and repeat the idea enough times so that the brain-muscle connection can be well trained and the idea / material can be burned into your being;
  • Have respect for your instrument as it is not just a pile of wood, metal, strings, skin, etc., but is a vehicle that can bring you to an exceptional state of awareness and peace.

It is yoga with music as the object / point of awareness. By making music practice not just something that you do to improve your ability with your instrument but approaching music practice as a destination, a focused, relaxed and concentrated state of awareness inside the music. This cultivation of attention makes music a place to create within as well as the product of creation itself.

3) Cook

Cooking can be an incredibly powerful act of meditation. Grind your own spices, chop vegetables with a smile, and put love into your pot.

Food is what we nourish our bodies with. We quite literally, are what we eat. Whether you are making something healthy or maybe you are baking a comforting treat for yourself, if you bring presence and love into your cooking you can use cooking as a method of creative meditation.

Focusing on the way we chop the vegetables, spice and season the food just right and finally plating the food so that it quite literally becomes a visual representation of deliciousness can all be ways that we meditate as we cook. The food that we put in our bodies and that we feed to our friends and family becomes an act of love and friendship.

4) Exercise

Yoga is probably the first method of exercise that comes to mind when we think of bringing presence into a physical activity. And while yoga is undoubtedly a wonderful way to bring our attention to the subtle nuances of our body’s movements, it’s not the only way. In fact, any exercise can be used to love our bodies in an active meditation.

The practice alone will bring about a beautiful sense of presence in your life. Even one class or hour of home-practice a week is great gift to yourself!

 

Taking a walk for example is another way, a slow one. Like, really slow. Inhale and lift your foot, exhale and plant it. Repeat.

There are many other options like weight lifting or dancing are all ways that we can move our body and focus on each movement in such a way that we can actually relax while at the same time getting our heart rate up. Exercising is another act of love towards our own self, so find which way to exercise best suits you and get moving!

For dancing, move simply and slowly. Don't overact. Follow each move with your concentration, giving yourself and others an opportunity to meditate on your presence. At the physiological level, research in neurophysiology has shown that there is an information biofeedback process between your senses, muscles, and brain. Too much muscular effort overwhelms the brain's ability to make sensory distinctions and restricts the mind's ability to work on the body's behalf. Less muscular effort produces more sensory motor learning. Repetition and simplicity activate your brain's movement centers and generate a flow of valuable information between your mind and your muscles and body. This approach is seen in yoga, t'ai chi gong, and other meditative practices. Automatically, as if by magic, tension, strain, fatigue, and discomfort will disappear as your neuromuscular system reprograms itself for better health. You will notice that this effect stays with you in all the days that follow.

5) Breathe

The easiest of all!

Breathing truly is the difference between feeling anxious and feeling relaxed. Try adding a few rounds of 4, 4, 8 count breath into your daily routine. Inhale for 4 counts, retain for 4 counts, and exhale for 8. Close your eyes. Be slow. Repeat.

Breathing in I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.”
 
~ Thich Nhat Hahn

 
Ironic how the easiest and most effortless thing we do on a day to day basis is actually the one thing that is the most beneficial. When we connect to, focus and become our breath we do the absolute most effective thing in relaxing our minds and bodies.

Every moment becomes another chance to meditate, and when we focus on our breathing we actually are able to deal with life in a calmer and a more responsive (as opposed to reactive) manner. Breath is life, and at a certain point in our spiritual journey we realize that life is meditation. All of life. The only way to come to this realization is to become our breath.

6) Create Art

The practice of painting, sculpting, drawing, sewing, or gluing magazine strips to paper is incredibly meditative. Set aside a bit of time for art, and as you work, make sure that you are truly focused on your project.

Art can really be anything these days. It can be:

  • Photography;
  • Making a collage;
  • Putting on your makeup;
  • Sewing;
  • Composing and producing music.

The list is very extensive, there are several others forms of art that you can practice. Anytime we create something new we are tapping into the “vortex”, which means we are connecting to source energy.

Anytime we are connected to source energy we are quite literally feeding our soul with what it needs. When we focus on creating something with our hands or voices or instruments or whatever, we turn off our “logical” mind and tap into our imagination. This can be an act of meditation because creating something can be a highly relaxing activity.

7) Writing

Each morning, spill out a page of junk that’s been on your mind into a journal. Notice the pressure of the pen on the paper. The sound of the tip scraping along the page. The way the ink bleeds. After writing for a bit about your day, and your shopping lists, and the cute boy in yoga class, you’ll find that you don’t have anything left to write. This is when you take a deep breath, and allow mindfulness to permeate. Go deeper. Soon, you’ll be writing with complete presence, as if another voice is writing through you.

Summary

Just BE, in the Present, Focus!

 

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