Meditation Beyond the Om: Five Non-Traditional Ways to Clear Your Mind
For those of you who find meditation to be somewhat alien, let me demystify it for you. Although its origins are spiritual, the end goal is simply to quiet your mind to make room for deeper awareness. On some level, I think we all know this kind of awareness is key to finding inner peace and happiness. But we often don’t know where to start.
While I love to meditate in a more traditional way, I also believe that you can achieve a clear state of mind in ways other than sitting still in silence. So, if the cross-legged, fingers in mudras, chanting "om" kind of meditation isn't quite your style, let me suggest some alternatives.
If you love art, like I do, this is a no-brainer. Art is known to be a great way to express oneself without limitations. It allows you to let your mind roam free without judgement, which in essence, is meditative because it helps you focus on the task at hand whilst letting everything else fade into the background. In this way, it lets your subconscious mind come to the surface to speak some truth to you that you may not have been aware of before. Art can be very enlightening.
Even if you're no Picasso, an easy way to incorporate some fun art into your life is to purchase adult coloring books, like the ones you'll find at Cotton On's Typo.
It sounds fancy, but really it’s just going into a natural area and walking in a relaxed matter. The goal isn’t to work up a sweat, but to slow down, immerse yourself in nature and to tune into all of your senses. Stop, close your eyes, and breathe, imagining a full breath of fresh oxygen. In this environment, you can declutter your brain without the distraction of crowds, traffic, or chores. It’s just you and Mother Nature.
We’re lucky here in San Diego County, as hiking trails are abundant. Get away from it all with forests and coastline at the nature preserve at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.
When you hear ‘mindful movement’, you might automatically think of yoga, but really mindful movement can be anything from running to surfing to dancing, as long as you’re doing it with intentionality. The trick is to focus on the body and what it’s doing in the moment rather than your “to do list”, what happened during the day, or your plans for the weekend. Forget everything except the task at hand, focusing on the sound of waves if you’re a surfer, focusing on your feet hitting the pavement as you run, and letting the beats of the music instruct your muscles as you dance.
If you are an accomplished athlete, your sport might not be challenging enough to be immersive, so try adding in a new activity. Swap your spin class for a run, try tai chi, or take a dance fitness class.
Journaling is a great way to do a brain dump. It’s like having an unfiltered conversation with a friend. So, write it all out. I mean really go for it. Rattle away even if it makes absolutely no sense, or is something you’d never dream of sharing with another person. Nobody else has to read it, not even you. But the act of writing it down is a great way to release your stress and all the pent up emotions you might have endured today or over your lifetime. Go into it with the intention of letting it all go right then and there. You might be surprised how much pours out of you. Once it’s on the page, you don’t have to carry it around with you anymore, and often that is enough to clear your head.
Look to Your Passions
If you love cooking or DIY projects, then incorporate that into your meditation practice. As long as it’s an activity that is significant to you, which you can focus on entirely while you are doing it. It’s all about the intention and the energy behind it, not the action itself. The point is to quiet the mind into a state of awareness so that you can get past the distracting buzz of the daily outer world and connect with your inner self. Think of it as mental hygiene, with clean mental clarity as the reward.