When you think of meditation, what is the first image that comes to mind? I bet it is sitting in the lotus position, hands in mudra on your knees, eyes closed, and stillness. Am I right? Whilst this traditionally is what meditation looks like, it doesn’t have to be the only way that you meditate.
I just came back from a diving holiday in beautiful Ambon. While I was on a lovely, relaxing dive, coasting along the sea bottom at 20 metres, it occurred to me that I was actually in a state not that far removed to that which I am in while meditating the usual way. After the dive finished, the way I felt, was not so different to how I feel after sitting in silence, cross-legged for 20 minutes.
“Oh, I’ve tried it before, and I didn’t like it”, “it doesn’t work for me”, I think that meditation is a bit too woo-woo for me to try”, “I don’t have time to meditate”, “I find meditation too difficult, I can’t sit and focus on nothing for that long”.
I hear you my dear clients! These excuses are ones that I too can also relate to. Meditation is not something that comes naturally to me, and maintaining a regular practice is something I also struggle with when in the traditional form.
But when I do practice meditation, gosh it feels good. And what I have come to realise is that meditation can come in many different forms to that of sitting in lotus position. If the purpose of meditation is to still the mind, relax, give yourself some time to breathe and be present, and to nourish your soul, then actually there are some alternative methods to meditate that I’d like to offer.
In fact when you consider the dictionary definition of meditation being: techniques of concentration and contemplation; the act or process of spending time in quiet thought, then there is definitely a case for all of these activities to also be considered as legitimate forms of meditation:
- Scuba Diving
Oh yeah baby. This is totally a form of meditation for me. Blowing bubbles under water, complete silence except for the sound of the bubbles and my breathing, focussing on nothing else but the moment I am in while underwater. This is totally a form of meditation for me!
I actually have a sketch pad and a really lovely pen that I have on my desk, which I pull out whenever I really just want to be present yet engaged, but not thinking. Doodling in this sketch pad is a form of meditation in that I will stop thinking about the millions of things racing through my brain, all my to-do lists and reminders, but instead allow my hand to flow freely while I remain present in that moment and my eyes on the page. You do not have to be a great drawer to doodle- just see where the pen takes you on the page, see what unfolds before you as you scribble, and you might come up with some lovely drawing meditation pieces at the end.
Whilst I don’t have a big garden that I dig around in myself, and I am certainly no green thumb, I do know that for clients and friends of mine who are into gardening that it is a form pf meditation for them. Having their hands in the soil, watering the plants, being mindful of each movement as they move through the garden and connecting with nature definitely allows time for contemplation and quiet thought- the very definition of meditation.
Again, none of these handicrafts are my cup of tea, but people like my mum who is the queen of scrapbooking will readily tell you that the act of creating a beautiful page takes complete focus and concentration, and it is also a fulfilling act that leads to a beautiful creation – this kind of art is the ultimate in meditative self-expression.
I used to be an avid swimmer, and when I was training in swim squad, doing lap after lap of the 50m pool, I would be thinking about nothing else than keeping up my bi-laptual breath rhythms and perfecting my arm strokes. I was fully absorbed in the moment of gliding through the water, enjoying the water on my skin, counting my breaths and the laps. Totally meditation!
Walking on the treadmill, using the ellipses machine or even lifting weights can be extremely meditative. I love to listen to music on my iPod, and to totally immerse myself in the moment so that I am almost in a trance-like state. In that moment, my head is clear of thoughts and all I am focused on is my breath and keeping my body movements fluid in each moment. There really is a mind, body and soul connection with exercise that totally makes it a meditative practice.
If the purpose of meditation is to be present, to de-clutter your mind and to connect with your mind and body, then the goals of these activities are just as valid as forms of meditation as the classical version. As long as you do these activities with intention, and focus on the moment you are in, then you are meditating.
- I’d love to know if you agree with these activities as being forms of meditation and whether you do any others that you consider to be a form of meditation. Please share in the comments below!