You’ve heard and read all there is to know about meditation, but for whatever reason, you’ve never been able to take the plunge.
Maybe sitting still makes you feel like you’re going to jump out of your skin. Or between work, exercise, and personal commitments, you just don’t have the time to set out your zafu and zabuton. Maybe you don’t actually have either a zafu or a zabuton, and get irritated when your friends get zenner-than thou just because they managed to sit cross-legged for a few minutes.
And all that’s okay. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to enjoy meditation’s many proven benefits without following the ancient masters to the letter.
Here are three ways for active types to work meditation into their lives—and find the physical benefits and mental clarity that the practice brings.
Let your fingers do the relaxing
Sure you’ll sit—in an office chair with your laptop in front of you. Unplug for a bit with a series of exercises designed to relax and energize your hands and upper body.
Known as mudras, these hand gestures can help you clear your mind in a compressed span of time.
First a few tips. Make sure to keep your fingers relaxed, not pressing too hard. And if you notice any tensions in your fingers, arms, shoulders, neck, or face, try to adjust slightly and let them go.
• Position 1: Make an “OK” sign with your thumb, ring and pinky fingers and rest the backs of your hands on your lap. (If you’re at a standing desk, keep your arms hanging at your sides.) Not only does this position give a gentle stretch to your typing muscles, it also helps with nervousness, so it’s great right before or after a big event.
• Position 2: Hold your left hand up with the fingers straight and together, and make a thumbs-up gesture with your right. Grip your left thumb with your right fist, and rest your right thumb against your left middle finger.
Relaxing your arms into this gesture supports the muscles surrounding your larynx, so it’s perfect prep for a big presentation.
• Position 3: Steeple your fingertips together like you’re hatching a plot, keeping your arms and shoulders relaxed. Mad scientists use this mudra—and you can too. It’s for concentration and memory, and can help you get your mind back on track for creative plotting and planning.
Choose the position you need most, or cycle between them to keep your brain entertained.
Result: “I feel recharged, and I didn’t even need a desk nap!”
You like the feeling of pushing through, especially when you’re facing circumstances bigger than you. Thankfully, rhythmic exercise like running and cycling naturally enables a meditative state—and with a little bit of mindfulness, you can find strength and serenity in the same workout.
Breathe evenly, in rhythm with your steps. Try different combinations of 3-4 breaths per step or pedal stroke, or switch down to 2 breaths when tackling a hill or difficult terrain. If your breath starts getting ragged, welcome that—if you can acknowledge the difficulty without losing your rhythm, you’ll be able to go further longer.
And if you’re not running or riding in traffic, you can set up a high-energy soundtrack, making a bpm-based playlist to match your cadence.
Result: “This is my body, this is my street, and I’m the one driving.”
Find a local ecstatic dance gathering. With only one rule: no talking, the DJ sets the tone, with moods ranging from weekday wind-down to blissed-out, drug-free ecstasy.
Bounce and weave through the room on your own or get into a groove with a total stranger. You’ll leave feeling sweaty, exhilarated, and in sync with the world.
Result: “Other people aren’t so bad after all.”
So if you can’t sit, don’t stress—mental stillness and physical activity can happily go hand-in-hand.
The posts on this blog are for information only, and are not intended to substitute for a doctor-patient or other healthcare professional-patient relationship nor do they constitute medical or healthcare advice of any kind. Any information in these posts should not be acted upon without consideration of primary source material and professional input from one's own healthcare professionals.