What began many centuries ago as a spiritual practice has taken a comfortable seated position in mainstream culture. Praised by Silicon Valley CEOs and charismatic TV personalities alike, meditation is touted as not only the silver bullet for all that ails us, but also a tool for maximizing productivity.
When practiced regularly, meditation can lead to some pretty amazing results both mentally and physically, as demonstrated by numerous scientific studies. In particular, stress resilience and relief (something we could all use a little more of) is a common byproduct of a daily meditation practice. Yet many of us still haven’t tapped into its benefits because, well, meditation just isn’t our thing.
If you fall into this category, fear not—it’s possible to reap the stress-relieving benefits of meditation without all the closed-eyed, cross-legged silence that fills some with dread.
In guided meditation, students are often asked to “empty” their minds, allowing their thoughts to enter and exit without attachment. For some, this can be very calming; however, for others who prefer activity over passivity, this can prove very difficult. Journaling mimics this process by allowing the journalist to empty their minds onto a page. As thoughts present themselves, rather than ruminating on them, the journalist can release them, thereby also practicing non-attachment.
Commune with nature
Those who regularly spend time in nature will often describe it as therapeutic or even meditative, so it’s no surprise that the positive effects of communing with nature mirror those of meditation. In a 2018 study, researchers found they could predict lower depression, anxiety, and stress scores in those with greater access and exposure to nature.
Connect with art
We invite children to explore their creativity through finger painting, papier-mâché, and everything in between, but for some reason, we don’t extend this invitation to ourselves.
Listen to music
Think back to your teenage days when you couldn’t get home fast enough to bliss out to your favourite album. Little did you know you were actively engaging in a meditative-like practice.
In a 2015 study, researchers found that, among university students, listening to music for relaxation purposes was associated with reduced reported stress levels and lower cortisol concentrations.
Find your chill
By expanding your definition of meditation beyond the standard trope, you start to see how any practice—when approached with intention and consistency—can be meditative. The key, then, is to find your unique version of meditation—because although we all experience stress, the ways in which we effectively manage it are completely up to us.