Often I hear people saying that they don’t meditate because they “can’t.” Because sitting still for 30 seconds is impossible, or they get bored or anxious, or they just don’t have time.
Meditation is simply the act of being mindful – of everything, of nothing, of anything, of yourself. There is no end goal, there is no right or wrong way to do it. There are, however, techniques to help you reach a different state of consciousness, while more gracefully sidestepping your perceived struggles with it.
Because if there’s anything we need, it’s not just the ability to quiet and focus our thoughts, allow feelings to come and go, observe our reactions objectively – but also how to incorporate these practices into our everyday lives. Of course it’s easy to be meditative and conscious during a cool down session after yoga class. But what about in the office? On your commute? When your roommate or sibling or mother-in-law is driving you insane?
Here, I have listed 11 things that I have personally done and can attest to the effectiveness of. These methods are easy, accessible, and can definitely fit into your daily routine or at least your interests if “sitting and focusing on breath” doesn’t work for you just yet. The point is that you start somewhere, with whatever works. The benefits of being more mindful are infinite, so we need to get on our zen hustle people.
1. If you really feel like you can’t settle down for longer than 30 seconds, try a children’s meditation.
I actually find that I’m more relaxed using meditations designed for kids than I am the ones for adults. (Fun fact: Chrissy introduced me to this when she came to New York and we stayed together one time.) It’s just more straightforward and helps you think at a very innate, basic level. Essentially what I’m saying is, if it can calm a 7-year-old down, it can probably calm you down too.
2. If it seems impossible to carve time out of your daily routine, try incorporating it into the one you already have with a walking meditation.
The idea is that you focus on your breath, on the weight shifting from foot to foot, etc. It’s very simple and you can do it in your room if you want. When I was in college I lived about a mile away from campus, and I would walk to class each day while doing a guided walking meditation – I used one I downloaded from iTunes, you can do the same. First of all, you’re multitasking. Second of all, many people listen to music while walking, not all of which actually serves them in any positive way. Third of all, you arrive to wherever you’re headed in a completely different state of mind, without extended a packed schedule any more than you need to.
3. If you feel you need to understand something better, want to learn, or just find that you are more interested when you meditate on something (a mantra, an idea), try meditating to a lecture or a video.
Of course, make sure you choose something that will help you in becoming more centered. I wouldn’t recommend meditating to Grey’s Anatomy, but hey, whatever works for you I guess. There are all kinds of podcast-esque recordings of lectures and talks that teachers, philosophers and authors have done scattered about the internet. Find something that really interests you, close your eyes and breathe and focus on the message. I personally do this most often.
4. If you need structure and to monitor your growth and progress, try Headspace Take 10.
This is an app you can get on your phone, but I linked an audio clip so you can get a sense of what it’s about. I used Headspace for about a year and a half, and I absolutely loved it, and friends who I recommended it to felt similarly. It’s a program where you sit down to a guided meditation every day for 10 minutes, and you focus on something a little bit different, and gradually work your way into mastery.
5. If you need some deep life-changing healing shit to go down, try the Silva Method.
(You can also find this on the App store.) Essentially, Silva is specialized, guided image-based meditation that is intended to sort of re-wire your subconscious and heal any negative programming or mindsets you may or may not even realize you have. It’s more or less a mental training program, and I’ve only tried it once or twice, but from what I’ve done it’s very intense (and very effective.)
6. If you’re constantly stressed or tense and aren’t sure why, set aside a Saturday or a weekend to do a long, deep relaxation (and find one specialized in anxiety, depression, self-esteem, whatever you need help with.)
I’ve seen these bad boys floating all over the Internet. I don’t use many (I have used the one linked, that’s all) but from what I can tell, setting aside an hour or more to allow yourself to completely detox and get into your groove and stay there seems most ideal.
7. If you need to be creative, try something specialized to inspire or get your flow going.
You simply visualize energy moving and your mind and body opening up to ideas and inspiration, and somehow, beyond my comprehension (and probably just by sheer power of thought) it works. I used this every day while writing a lot of my last book.
8. Painting and drawing are two excellent ways to express yourself while grounding and focusing at the same time. But if you don’t want to do it yourself, watch a video of some beautiful artist creating something, and let yourself be mesmerized.
Or really, watch anything that naturally compels you, to the point where you are so focused on the movement or creation, everything else fades to the background. Think of it as a Lite Version/externalized method of focusing on each breath.
9. If you want an instant energetic shift, try using binaural beats, even in the background of your everyday tasks.
Binaural beats are frequencies played in certain combinations that adjust your brain waves. There’s a lot of science behind this (it was discovered back in 1839, but we’re just developing the technology now to really utilize it every day). It’s really cool, and it really works, you just usually have to shop around for the right audio. The one I linked is one I work/write to most days.
10. If you’re having relationship issues, or are better focused when someone else is present, try to meditate with someone you love.
Not only is this really romantic (light candles, just lay next to each other and focus on your breath and your partners’, etc.) but it’s also oddly effective for your own practice, even when you begin to do it alone. I assume it’s because it’s often easier to focus on somebody you love than it is just yourself.
11. If you feel like you’re in need of some inner guidance, try lucid writing.
You can do this with any music in the background, but I recommend trying it in silence, by yourself. Just start writing. Just draw lines and squiggles and scribbles and eventually, you will start saying something. A whole lotta somethings that you probably didn’t realize you had to say. The trick here is that you have to allow yourself a few minutes to really get in the groove of it (don’t give up if it doesn’t work after 10 seconds) and keep going even if what you elicits an intense emotional response – you’re probably onto something.