Sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and focusing on your breath sounds deceptively easy. Until, 30 seconds into it, you realise that you’re thinking about yesterday’s conversation with your boss and, actually, there’s still that report that he wanted you to write, so what are you doing here relaxing… And then you get that nudging feeling that you’ve forgotten to turn off the iron. Is that the smell of something burning?
After a couple of attempts, each more stressful than the previous one, you might start thinking that you just can’t meditate. But before you give up on the sense of peace and presence that meditation can bring into your life, consider this. Meditation is simply focusing your attention on a single thing. Often you’d be encouraged to focus on your breath because it’s something that’s always there and accessible to everyone. But you can easily choose a different focus.
Yoga may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of meditation through movement, but it’s not the only physical activity that provides a point of focus for the restless mind. When you’re running or swimming, concentrating on the breath is essential for good technique and the repetitive motion lulls you into a meditative state. When you’re playing tennis, you can’t take your eyes off the ball. If you enjoy surfing, you have experienced moments when you’re one with the wave. Choose an activity you enjoy with repetitive movements and clear focus, and engage in a meditation practice while you’re getting your workout done.
Art and Craft
Colouring for adults has become popular in recent years as a meditative activity. It’s easy to do, it doesn’t require tons of supplies and you can limit your session to the time you have available, whether it’s five minutes or an hour. Knitting and crochet are also excellent ways to relax your mind while you’re creating something with your hands. They are repetitive, yet, require your full attention to stick to your pattern and not lose your stitches. Making things with your hands has the power to unlock a different state of mind, where you let go of thought and concentrate on the sensation in your fingertips.
A Favourite Pastime
Remember a time in your life when you were fully present. When the colours were brighter and the sounds were more intense. When time was flowing differently—either lightning fast or slow enough to fit a lifetime in a moment. This is the state we’re aiming to achieve through meditation. What were you doing at that time? Dancing, walking in nature, talking to your child? Can you make time to engage in that activity more often?
You can turn any activity into meditation when you do it wholeheartedly and pour all your attention into it. It’s much easier to create a regular meditation practice, if you do it in a way that’s enjoyable for you.
Tatiana is a freelance writer and a mum of three living in Sydney. After a 10-years’ break, she has just returned to full-time work. She is still finding time for yoga, meditation and mindfulness, which is making a huge difference to her sanity and her enjoyment of life.