Many don’t believe in meditation until they try it. Being Zen isn’t only for mastermind yogis. You have to find your style. Feeling comfortable in your skin and simply relaxing is more challenging than most realize, since daily life is often spent rushing on a ticking clock.
Meditation is a powerful tool to shift your perspective and enhance your mood. You may not feel motivated to sit on a cushion and chant mantras, but there are simple ways to work meditation into your daily life.
- Slow Down
It sounds counter-intuitive, but start slow with small things. Slow-motion meditation decreases the rate at which an activity is performed and focuses your intention on the activity by completing it at half-speed. Your brain waves shift from busy bee beta to ahh-alpha.
Skip the dishwasher. Appreciate every step and detail — how the soap suds and the warm water rush over the plate and your hands. You can slow down and get things done.
- Practice Qi Gong
No, you don’t need a gong. This form of “moving meditation” is an exercise for mental, physical and spiritual health. It’s similar to Tai Chai in that you use slow, rhythmical poses to center and focus your Qi, or vital energy. It is low impact and works for people with physical limitations. Qi Gong has been proven to relieve stress and increase circulation and energy.
While experts are able to demonstrate nuances in breath and movement, certain Qi Gong exercises may be done accurately and conveniently within minutes. Lifting the Sky is probably the most widely performed exercise in Qi Gong in the world and is immensely simple.
As with any physical activity, you need to first warm up your body. Stand with your feet barely wider than hip-width apart, with your toes pointed straight and feet parallel. Bend your knees, barely. Gently bounce and settle into your hips. Relax your arms by your sides, rotating your shoulders and hips. Alternate sides of your body. You may find yourself so relaxed that your feet begin to feel like roots, while your arms sway like the limbs of a tree.
Once you’ve warmed up, you are ready to practice Lifting the Sky. First, you need to have the correct form:
- Your feet should be parallel, almost hip-width apart.
- Relax your jaw, parting your lips. Rest your tongue on the roof of your mouth, which helps circulate your Qi.
- Be aware of your arms, but let them relax at your sides.
- Use good posture, with an upright form that is comfortable and aligns your spine.
- Face your palms down, parallel to the ground. The fingertips extend toward the body’s center with space between each finger.
- Tilt your head down slightly toward your hands.
Now that you have a comfortable form, follow these tips when Lifting the Sky:
- As you inhale through your nose, raise your arms over your head in a fluid, slow arc. Let your head gently follow your movements.
- When your hands are over your head, lift up on your heels.
- Palms face the sky, with fingertips toward each other.
- As you exhale through your mouth, your arms descend softly back down to your sides like wings. Let your gaze and head follow your hands.
Repeat this exercise at least five times to familiarize yourself with the motions and get the most out it.
- Try Walking Meditation
You don’t have to sit still to meditate. Practice walking meditation, or Kinhin, in an area where you will have space to move around. The ideal place is in a peaceful labyrinth or park, but a large room works, too.
As you walk, you become aware of the continuous, fluid motion of the body. Use good posture and calming, consistent deep breaths to center yourself. There are different traditions and forms of practicing Kinhin, but you should practice what works for you.
In its most basic form, meditation isn’t about specific breathing patterns, mantras or sitting in a lotus position. Meditation is about being comfortable in your skin and soul within the present, with intention.