It’s January and a lot of us are setting intentions. Perhaps on your list you’d like to meditate more.
But for many, sitting in the Lotus position and focusing on the breath can feel hard and physically uncomfortable sometimes.
There are many types of meditation, some which are less well known, but deeply effective.
So here are 10 ways to meditate, none of which involve sitting in a way that causes you pain!…
FIrst up though, it’s important to ask the question, what is medtation?
In all honesty, there are a lot different viewpoints on this.
For me, the most helpful way of defining meditation is that it involves getting deeply into a moment with a sense of flow and being open to receiving, letting go of our fixed view of where things should go and what should happen.
Those moments can be in the past, present or future, as we’ll describe in a moment.
This can make meditation a beautiful and playful experience, but we can also be open to feeling any emotion.
Sometimes when we meditate, we can actually feel old emotions that have been stuck for a while. We can sit with sad or angry parts of us and hear what they have to say and discover the nuggets of wisdom beneath.
And we can deeply feel how holding onto old thoughts cause us pain.
So meditation isn’t just about sitting cross-legged and feeling a state of bliss.
In fact, when we push for that or expect that state it can actually cause our meditation experience to be stressful. We can get that ‘not good enough’ feeling, or simply our body isn’t enjoying being in that position when it’s tight from all that sitting in front of a screen.
So here are a selection of meditations to support you in becoming deeply in a moment, with an intention of being open and returning to a loving state (at some point – this doesn’t need to be instant!).
1. Play Meditation
This can be for adults or children. It could involve found objects, art materials, instruments or anything else.
The secret of a play meditation is to not have an outcome in mind, so it’s a little different from getting fully absorbed in painting a scene, for example, or trying to play a piece of written music. We’re open to receiving.
So perhaps you might just take a paintbrush and see where it takes you on the page. How do you feel? Or what mixture of feelings do you feel and how does that translate on the page?
Remember there’s no right or wrong here. And a beautiful way to do this is to listen to music as you draw or paint and see where the music takes you.
There’s something very freeing about letting go. About not thinking whether this piece is going to end up on your wall somewhere (though if it does, that’s nice too!).
2. Singing Meditation
Not so many people are familiar with singing meditation, but it can be incredibly powerful.
You can sing either on your own or in a group (keep an eye on the blog as we’re doing a podcast this year on singing meditation, including Heartsong, where you can join in at home!).
Sign up below to get the free podcast when it comes up…
Heartsong, which is one example of singing meditation, uses words and lyrics that invite in a sense of peace and love, but also welcomes all emotions.
You can sing beautiful lyrics or mantras, or go freestyle and improvise (and you definitely don’t need to have a perfect voice!). What works really well is that using words occupies our mind and gives it less space to go wandering.
You can also focus on sensations in your body, like the vibrations you feel as you sing.
3. Meditating on a Past Moment
Meditation doesn’t have to be all about getting into the present moment.
We can get fully into a past moment too (according to quantum physics, all times exist at once anyway!).
This way we can heal past hurts and gain new wisdom from past situations, but again we go in without expectations.
One incredibly effective way of meditating on a past moment is The Work of Byron Katie.
The Work is a transformative process of routing out and releasing old, festering thoughts that no longer serve us.
You can revisit a moment, like a 5 second snapshot, that you found triggering at the time. You explore what stories and thoughts you held, how they caused you suffering, then through a process of enquiry, see if you can find another truth (for me, the truth is a return to unconditional love).
You can do this alone (following the online guidelines), but to start with it really helps to do The Work with someone else, ideally a trained facilitator.
As trained facilitators, we support you in going through the process of enquiry with a negative thought.
Other ways of meditating on the past that I use with clients include visualisation, such as balls of light and forgiveness and rewriting past moments, or revisiting them as an adult. Again I’d recommend doing this with a trained facilitator, particularly if the past hurts you’re working on involve trauma.
4. Meditations for Love and Positive Emotions
I’ve found that many clients who struggle with ‘classic meditation’ love using HeartMath techniques instead.
HeartMath involves a focus on positive emotions, for ourselves and others.
These breathing techniques are designed to help balance the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the body into a state known as heart coherence (which basically, when you experience it, feels lovely!).
HeartMath meditation and breathing techniques are backed by a lot of scientific research and are even used by NASA and top Fortune 100 companies, such as Sony.
Just 5 or 10 minutes a day has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression and support sleep as well as general performance.
The best way of understanding HeartMath is to simply experience it.
You can experience a free HeartMath meditation and creative visualisation called Peace Tree when you sign up to the blog (and I’ll only send you an email twice a month, since I’m a big believer in peace!)…
5. Movement Meditation
Yoga is a common movement meditation… Less well known, but extremely effective is dance meditation or conscious movement.
You might bring awareness to different parts of your body as you move or dance with thoughts or emotions.
You can dance or move without music, but the music can be extremely supportive.
You can experience a free dance meditation here to beautiful piano music (yes, I know I keep popping these in – it’s because I really want you to have the free meditations and I believe they really will help you feel good! Plus, if you haven’t done them yet and they’re waiting in your Inbox, you could even go and do them right now!).
Worldwide Community Dance Parties!… In Routine Revolution, you can experience a Healing Dance meditation in the Health and Healing Week, plus Community Dance Parties where we have a playlist playing 3 times a day with meditation invitations for different tracks, so wherever you are in the world you can virtually dance with others. Find out more here.
6. Sensory Meditations
You can look around right now, with your ears, eyes and sense of touch. Let your fingers fall on fabric and textures (go on, have a go, even if you feel a bit weird!).
It’s a beautiful experience to combine sensory meditation with gratefulness. For example, right now you can find something to touch, see or hear that you’re grateful for. Let your senses land on one thing. It could be in the environment around you or your own body.
Another sensory meditation is a walking meditation, which is particularly effective in nature.
You can focus on a small patch of ground and find miniworlds of animals and plants.
You can focus in on the hairs on a leaf, the sounds of nature, or the way the grass moves in the wind. We can see these things as little miracles of life.
Did you know we have seven senses (not five)?
And we can use every sense, including the feel of the ground beneath our feet, the pressure through our legs as we walk (this is known as proprioceptive input), or the feeling of movement as we walk or spin (this is known as vestibular input).
It can be nice to mix up our nature walk, so we move more like children, weaving in diagonals, jumping on mole hills or in puddles, sometimes walking, sometimes running, sometimes gently spinning.
Again we can bring in gratefulness, for the sounds we hear or the things we touch.
I also like to send love to the plants and trees as I’m a modern day hippy! I really feel like I’ve got to know the trees around me!
And of course, you can do sensory meditation mindful eating, touch meditation (yes, including sex! – with that key meditation aspect of letting go of expectations).
Gone are the days of Adrian Mole and journals being the things of teenagers (and something to hide from our parents about our escapades and who we fancied!).
There are many ways to meditate through journaling.
You can do gratefulness journaling for your day, or free-writing where you just write whatever comes to mind, whether it’s dull or super interesting, from you or from some other guidance. It just comes out! Many people have had very deep insights this way, with the freedom it brings.
You can even write a question at the top of your page, like ‘I’m open to receiving ideas about how to deal with my stress at work’ and then let your pen flow. You can expect, like any form of meditation, that some days this will feel easier than others and it definitely gets easier with practise.
Sometimes the answers might not come on the page, but just by asking, the answers might come later, particularly when you’re feeling relaxed or even during a dream. Some people feel like these answers come from their deep, inner guidance or depending on your spiritual beliefs, a greater consciousness or power.
I also do guided journaling in Routine Revolution where we take you into a deeper meditative state, so you can answer questions and set intentions and visions for your life from this deeper place of consciousness.
8. Creative Visualisation
Visualisation can be a beautiful way of meditating.
You can take yourself into a beautiful woodland where birds are singing and the light is shining through dappled leaves, or go hang out on a hammock on a warm, sunny beach, or create any kind of safe space in your imagination.
Our sub-conscious can’t tell the difference between reality and what’s imagined, so when we tell it that we’re safe and happy, our body can feel the same sensations and emotions.
There’s even research that shows that imagining a plentiful supply of white blood cells can significantly boost the immune system, so visualisation can support healing and even help to reduce nausea or inflammation.
Creative visualisation is particularly effective when all the senses are used in your imagination.
We can also use this meditation technique to support us in creating our future and changing our beliefs (it’s used by many top athletes and high performers), and send love to ourselves and others. I use creative visualisation in my meditations. Again you can find examples in my free meditations.
9. Body, Emotions and Parts Scan
Some people swear by body scans for their calming ability.
You can bring your consciousness each part of your body, perhaps tensing it and then releasing.
For me, my mind tends to wander during the basic version of this technique, so I like to give my mind a little more to keep it occupied. So if you’re like me, you can add in extra points of focus.
I might bring my consciousness to each body part and send it love and gratefulness, really recognising what it’s done for me today and every day.
You can choose a body part right now and do this. So think of your hands, for example, or your feet. What do they help you to do every day?
You can also scan your body for tension, emotions or any part of you that wants to be heard and perhaps has some wisdom to offer you (like your inner child, your inner critic, your inner anger).
You might see tension in you, for example, like a colour, shape, texture or movement.
You might identify parts of you in the same way, or as little caricatures. With parts work, it can help to have a coach or Parts Work facilitator support you in this. From my experience, every part of us always has good intentions, can always be held with love and can evolve with new tools (and these parts can offer us wisdom too).
10. Life as a Meditation
We can meditate in our relationships, while doing the washing up, while having sex.
At any point we can choose to be fully present, invite in love and set the intention of letting go of exactly how we expect things to be.
We might send love to our washing machine for all its work, focus on the feel of fabric as we hang out the washing (while we sing a mantra!), send love to people in other cars as we drive.
As we’re talking to a friend, we can do HeartMath as we listen, releasing judgement and seeing even more of this person’s beauty.
We can visualise our emotions and parts of us as colours, shapes, textures or caricatures. We can talk with them, dance with them, draw and paint them.
And when we join our partner or simply ourselves in sex, we can simply let go of how we think it ‘should’ be and allow ourselves to play, exploring what we don’t want and what we do want. I love that Byron Katie says that when we meet ourselves or a partner in sex without an agenda or stories, it becomes truly sensational.
Really, anything in our life, and all of our life can be a form of meditation.
All we need to do is to invite in the feeling of letting go… and sometimes even let go of trying to let go!
And an important note, letting go doesn’t mean that we just let anything happen to us. Quite the contrary. It just means we can let go of old stuff so that we’re free to make decisions about what makes us and others happy. What we truly want in our heart.
Free of old fears and what society tells us we ‘should’ do.
So that’s meditation in a nutshell.
I recommend taking this very moment to try some form of meditation suggested here, even if it’s just for a 3 minutes – you can even set a timer.
And you can be fully present with the voice that says, ‘I don’t have time…’, or ‘I just need to pop on WhatsApp quickly… maybe I could meditate on which emoji to use…’ or ‘I just need to read that other blog post about meditation…’.
Dance, sing, play, love, be present, if only for 30 seconds… (okay, I’m doing this now, setting a minute timer on my kitchen clock and challenging the voice that says, ‘just finish the blog post’… that was nice… I just ate a satsuma and drank some water with gratefulness and imperfect but lovely mindfulness)… maybe that voice that says ‘put meditation off’ is right… or maybe you can meditate right in this moment. If you want to.
You can try a free guided dance meditation right here now – a free gift from me to you!
Lots of love and have a beautiful day filled with presence, appreciation and maybe a nice satsuma!