Too busy to meditate? Try These Fun Meditation Techniques Instead

If you are anything like me, you have surely heard all about the different meditation techniques out there and the importance of meditating 5 minutes daily.

You’ve tried to do it… in fact, you get off to a great start, you create a new habit (or at least you think you have) and next thing you know your 5 minutes of meditation bliss have been replaced by [insert random activity here].

BUT YOU REMAIN DETERMINED. You know all about the benefits, you know you should be doing it, and you push yourself yet again.

The solution to the problem is easy: create new habits that stick. I started my mini-course on procrastination precisely because I wanted to learn how to create new and productive habits that could help me reach my goals. If you want to be the first to hear about it, make sure to sign up for my newsletter at the top of this page or below this article.

But what if creating and starting the habit of meditation itself is not the problem?

Have you asked yourself what is truly holding you back from sitting down cross-legged with your eyes closed for at least 5 minutes daily?

Yes, I am sure meditating cross-legged is more helpful than not.

Yes, I am sure meditating with your eyes closed is even more helpful than not.

But the truth of the matter is that if you are learning meditation, or if you feel like you’re too busy to meditate, the fact that you think that in order to meditate you must sit cross-legged or close eyes for five minutes will actually work against you. Take the following scenarios for example:

  • Scenario #1: You wake up and because you have heard the best time to meditate is right after you wake up you proceed to… ehem… fall back asleep for five more minutes.
  • Scenario #2: You actually do wake up, you sit up cross legged, spine straight, close your eyes, and let your monkey mind run wild as you go down your to-do list for the day ahead of you—so much for meditation.
  • Scenario #3: You just don’t feel like sitting still or closing your eyes and therefore you cannot meditate.

meditating with a straight spine, sitting cross legged and with your eyes closed while you chant “Om” may be the ideal way to meditate, but it is not the only way to do it. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

So if you could relate to any of the scenarios above, what can you do if you still want to meditate?

First, understand what meditation really is all about.

The benefits of meditation are everywhere on the interweb. MayoClinic, numerous HuffPo articles, websites created specifically for the different meditation techniques… we all know them almost by heart:

  • Reduced stress,
  • Better focus,
  • Increased happiness,
  • Increased self-awareness (and we all know just how important self-awareness is in the formula for success).

But what is meditation?

Is it really all about sitting down cross-legged? Not quite.

I have been practicing Kundalini yoga since 2009, a kind of yoga that combines physical exercises with chanting and meditation. And from my own practice, I have come to realize that meditation is both focused attention and a state in which you simply let go of that focused attention.

More importantly, I have found that all meditation techniques have three basic things in common. In fact, this is where these alternative meditation techniques come in. Instead of thinking that you must sit cross-legged, that you must close your eyes, and that you must chant Om, why not take the basics of meditation and apply them to your everyday life?

Isn’t that what building sustainable habits is all about anyways?

The basics of meditation as alternative meditation techniques

1. Breath

An integral part of any meditative practice or any of the many different meditation techniques out there is to take deep breaths. Simple as that.

That means that if you want to meditate, you can meditate anytime you take a deep breath—are you stuck in Houston traffic? No problem, take a deep breath; are you walking your dogs? No problem, breathe deeply; are you crocheting (my new favorite), no problem, breathe deeply.

Every breath you take is an opportunity to meditate on the spot.

2. Focused attention

Surely you have heard about focusing your attention on a mantra as part of certain meditation techniques. Just like with breathing throughout your day, create an opportunity to focus your attention away from the stress in your life and focus on something that is beneficial instead. Practicing target desired states is actually an excellent practice to help you achieve your goals.

Focus on the breath, a mantra, or your inner states. The point is to be in the present moment.

3. Observing your thoughts

Mindfulness and detachment are two very important byproducts of meditation. So why not benefit from them by observing your thoughts?

You know that voice inside your head that is reading through the words of this article? Yes, that one. Step away from it for a minute and observe it without judgment. Realize that you have thoughts about your thoughts. Now practice this exercise throughout your day—it will do wonders in your life.

Conclusion

Yes, you should eventually work your way to sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed for five minutes daily. Heck, maybe you can eventually work your way up to a 10-day silent meditation retreat!  But don’t feel bad if you are busy and feel like you don’t have time to sit down for five minutes—thinking that you don’t have time is part of the problem, and beating yourself over it is only making it worse.

I’m also not saying to re-invent the wheel. All I am saying is that you can still benefit from a meditative practice without going out into a cave for six months. All you have to do is to make it a point to take deep breaths, focus your attention, practice mindfulness, and voilá.

What about you? How do you meditate?

 

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22 Comments

  1. Victoria, As a former professor of health and physical education, one of my favorite courses that I taught was yoga and meditation. We would always begin the class with sitting cross legged for several minutes, doing breathing exercizes and noticing our thoughts. And we would always end by lying down and allowing our body and mind to relax. Now, although I don’t often sit cross-legged, I do start each day before getting up by silently observing my thoughts and breathing in a relaxed way. Just being quiet and still and allowing your mind to calm down can help you to focus so much better for most of the day.
    Warmly,
    Dr. Erica

  2. Just before you gave your solution to the problem (don’t take meditation as meditation, but as a lifestyle), I was saying it out loud: why not doing all these things day in and day out? I learned this from my brilliant acting coach, Josh Pais (imdb him, it’s worth a look) – the way you do anything is the way you do everything. You cannot slice the ‘Victoria’ apple pie and end up with a slice of cherry pie. So, if you do meditation as an ‘exercise’ guess what? It will stay an exercise. As soon as you let it bleed into your entire life (now there’s a thriller image I didn’t intend to create 🙂 ), it will become so much more… well… you! 🙂

  3. Yes! I was trained as a yoga and meditation instructor, yet I still have the hardest time keeping a seated meditation practice. I’ve tried to find ways to bring a meditative state into my daily life while doing mundane things like washing dishes, driving, playing the guitar, petting my cat… and I totally agree with the tips you provide in this article. I love them. Thank you!

  4. Meditation is so beneficial- I love it and wish I had time to do more!

  5. Hi Victoria,

    This is very useful information on mediation 🙂 I have always wanted to try, I think with these awesome tips, I will:) Thanks for sharing 🙂

  6. this is very helpful, victoria, as i’ve been attempting to incorporate more meditative moments into my day. i do the breathing and i observe my thoughts (and have done both for quite some time), but i’ve never developed the practice further (i.e. the “focus” element). i will begin right now. 🙂

  7. Meditation is so important for me in my agency life. I actually found a location near work that offers lunchtime meditation and I try to go often midday so I can go back to work with a clearer mind.

  8. Oh, this is too funny! And great. And so true! I actually know a LOT about meditation anusually I’m really good at staying disciplined. But December always is a HUGE challenge. So yes, I’ll just keep it simple and whenever I feel like simply skipping these couple of minutes just for myself, I’ll think of you! 🙂 THANK YOU! 🙂

  9. With your new tips, I was able to meditate like three times as I read your blog post.

  10. I don’t meditate (yet) but I have been pondering about this idea for months already and yes you mentioned on your post all the things that hinders me. I guess its time to go scout for a coach that can teach me how to do this.

  11. I like the way you write about this post, so simple but powerful. Like you mentioned many we start off so well but this quickly goes away as we “get busy” or just fail to discipline ourselves to follow through. Thanks for sharing.

  12. I have to ask. What if you are limited and can no longer cross on of your legs. Due to a metal brace implanted? That is my situation and my back is damaged. How, can or what type of position is best?

    My eagerness is due to my new longer hours of meditation after morning prayer. Which in it self helps total overall well-being within me.

  13. Victoria, You are so right about the importance of meditation on a daily basis. I think many people feel that sitting quietly and practicing meditation daily is too difficult to do. Your suggestions to take deep breaths, focus your attention, and practice mindfulness is a great way to get started practicing meditation. Every day I take a 5 minutes to just breath deeply and focus my attention on what I am grateful for on that particular day and it has helped me tremendously. Thanks for all your excellent tips!

  14. There are so many times I just give myself a moment to relax and meditate a little. There really are so many different techniques to meditate. I think as long as you are one with yourself and can have a moment of peace and tranquility you are good to go 🙂 Thanks for these great techniques!

  15. Hi Victoria,

    Thank you for writing such a practical post about meditation. So many people shy away from it because they think they need to be in a “cave for six months” he he he.

    When it is really quite simple. If one has to start, they can bit by bit. I meditate many times during the week. Sometimes if I find myself all wound up from the day, I meditate before going to bed. It works better than Ambien…not that I ever took it lol. But I’ve been meditating since I was a kid and sometimes it is for a few minutes….other times it goes longer.

    Thanks again!

    -Donna

  16. I love this, Victoria. I agree that there are many ways to meditate, including my favorite way, which is to be out in nature. I also meditate during my quiet time, but it varies. Sometimes I focus on my breath. Sometimes I quiet my mind and listen to my intuition. Sometimes I meditate on a quote or word.

  17. Willena Flewelling

    December 8, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    I agree, it is a lifestyle. Like William, I wonder what if you can no longer sit cross-legged. But your graphic reminds me of two scripture verses that say it all for me…

    Psalm 46:10 – Be still and know that I am God.
    Psalm 91:1 – He that dwelleth in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.

    We need times of quiet meditation, but we also need to be focused in the right place throughout our day.

  18. I take 30 minutes to myself every night where I put on classical music and just think. It is my time. Without this time, I am a ball of stress!

  19. First of all, I’m so glad you advocate taking practically any and every opportunity to practice some form
    of unconventional mediation through out our day..

    Because if I’m going to have to wait until I’m able to cross my legs
    the way you see a lot of people that are into yoga doing, then it’s probably not in the cards for me anytime soon.

    So I much prefer the non conventional approach that you’re advocating.What an inspiring overall message.

    Your approach is far more encompassing and empowering. Thanks so much for sharing it!

  20. Thank you, Victoria, for this great post!

    Yes, the breath is such a great tool.
    I am one of those people who is still learning to use breathing.
    When I was on a trip to town I realised that I was very anxious and was glad to remember to breath.

    Love and Light!
    Yorinda
    Yorinda recently posted…Empathy versus SympathyMy Profile

  21. Hi Victoria,

    First of all nice, site and also great to see so many of my blogging friends commenting on your post 🙂

    I now try to meditate daily. The results for me have been significant. In fact 2014 was the most amazing year because of my meditating and feeling more connected. But then I’ve also done a lot of the falling back asleep 5 minutes after you wake up lol.

    Looking forward to reading more of your blog posts,

    Thanks,

    Beth
    Beth Hewitt recently posted…Staying Connected to SourceMy Profile

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