Although meditation is commonly used as a religious practice it is also used for means of relaxation, stress control, and peace of mind. Time to oneself is necessary to reset the mind and calm distracting thoughts. Okay, so not everyone has the time or the desire to perform traditional means of meditation, but if you do have time to take a traditional yoga class we’d highly recommend it. However, there are some, dare we say it, easier and more fun methods that can be used in order to reach the same desired effects. Not only can these experiences calm us, but these can also help to build healthy habits and behaviors.
Setting aside time to be alone with yourself is a very important practice. Too often are we overwhelmed with the stresses of the day and feel the weight of a super speed lifestyle. We don’t realize it, but prolonged stress can actually have a negative impact on our bodies. So, I personally try to take a chunk out of my day for “me-time” each week. Even if you are only able to take a half hour or an hour per week I find that this time is crucial for allowing my brain to process all the events of the week and helps me to get in touch with my feelings about the week’s happenings.
Swimming or wading in a pool has many health benefits. Not only is it a wonderful form of exercise, but swimming can also provide means of hydrotherapy. Some of us are calmed simply from the soft sounds of water swishing and trickling. There are also those who have developed a nightly routine to take a lap in their pool (if you have one of course – lucky ducks). This seems to help melt away the stress of the day by just focusing on being in the water and the feeling of water on the skin. Some other things that hydrotherapy can do for the body are relieving pain and helping to increase in blood circulation. Dunking into warm or cool water can stimulate blood flow to the surface of the skin, which actually helps to regenerate skin cells – this means lovely glowing skin!
If you are like myself and don’t have access to a pool regularly, you can find meditative music with water sounds or just take a bath! Each time I take a bath I find myself wanting to get out within about 10 minutes. I get anxious because I know I have things I could be doing instead of sitting in the tub. I have made it a point to force myself to relax in the tub for at least 30 minutes, (preferably with some nicely scented oils added) clear my mind of all stressing thoughts, and just focus on the feeling of the water. After a few minutes of sitting in the tub I can usually feel the stress just melting away and I’m always glad I made myself sit a little bit longer.
Guided or individual yoga practice is fantastic for reaching a meditative state. Of course, yoga is great for exercise (we already know that). But, it is also wonderful for deep thought, practicing to become more aware of the body, and yoga has even been proven to be a natural antidepressant. Some cancer patients have even used yoga methods to curb side effects of cancer treatment. A traditional yoga session is about an hour and a half long. This is definitely a long time to beginning yogis, but week after week the time will truly fly by. I found myself really wanting to practice more than just one time per week. First, I learned all the basics in a yoga studio so I understood how to do each pose properly, which is scary, but also extremely rewarding when a coach can tell you if you’re doing a pose correctly. Then, I moved to at home practice which was incredibly freeing. I was able to put on any soft music of my choosing and really tune out the world.
Yoga teaches us to be one with our bodies and the first of many principles is to focus on our breath. There are a few different yoga breathing techniques, but just focusing on the sound of your breath and what your body is actually doing during those breaths is most important. Feel each muscle as it expands and contracts and really be present with all of the effects of each pose on your body. Make sure to not do anything you aren’t completely comfortable with. A very wise instructor once told me that yoga is not about being the best – it is about doing your best.
Regular cleaning and organizing is not only great for a clean home and living space, but also very cleansing for the mind. There are extensive benefits of keeping clean and organized. An unorganized area can take away much needed minutes from our already jam-packed lives. When we can get organized, we will be able to lay out a plan of how exactly we want to spend our days. Organized people know exactly what needs to be done in a day and how to get those tasks accomplished. Time during the day can then be prioritized for the things that really need to get done – no wasted time! Those who stay organized will be able to accomplish much more with their time on a regular basis.
When my house has become unruly I’ll start a plan of organizing and tend to focus on one room. The thought of cleaning my entire house at once scares me to death. If I feel like I am able to continue to a second room after the first one is finished then so be it, but a clear idea of what has to get done and what could be done saves me from tons of unneeded stress. While cleaning or organizing I find a sense of peace being able to focus on just one task at a time. Even if my mind wanders a bit I can pull it back to the one thing I am doing. Another positive thing about organizing is that you can put your own decorative spin on how you organize. Pick fun colored bins or paint old containers for a positive aesthetic in your home.
Cooking is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It is extremely therapeutic. It is just fun to think about the fact that it is okay to make a mess and create something new that has never been created before. Because the act of cooking or baking is so involved it lowers your ability to let your mind wander. Focusing only on the moment can be extremely calming and stress relieving. Make sure to start with a level of recipes that you are most comfortable with and to not take anything too seriously. In recent years courses have even been developed to help fight depression, anxiety, and stress disorders. Teens and adults alike have been invited to practice in the healing arts of cooking and baking. If baking is your thing then go crazy with cookies – Nothing is out of bounds.
Please keep in mind that all practices are good in moderation. The purpose for each of these meditative mediums is to relieve stress and remove some negativity in all of our lives – not create it. If focusing on these tasks once a week is too stressful then allow yourself the leniency to take up practice whenever you want to. You may find yourself wanting to try them more often.
Trisha Miller is a freelance writer from Boise, ID. She is a dedicated vegan that promotes an all-around healthy lifestyle. She runs a vegan blog thatdangvegan.blogspot.com and can be found on twitter @thatdangvegan.