Sitting upright for 15 distraction-free minutes.. Who has the time for it, right? Or maybe it’s just a load o’ tomfoolery? (Despite the amount of science to support meditation which should make most doubters of it nod in succumbing agreement).
If you’re into it, great. If not, also great. It’s a personal endeavour all the same.
Here are some of the abnormal activities I’ve found replaces traditional meditation practice when I feel I don’t have the time, or the space..
1. Vocal Warm Up Exercises
Now the “what-the-f*ck?” types will surely be saying “what the f*ck?”
Yep.. Vocal warm ups. I started doing this a year ago to improve my singing (which it absolutely did). I then noticed that with the focus I placed on each note, and where my vocal chords were at, it gave me motionless-like presence.
I think Jacobs Vocal Academy’s Youtube Video has it done best.
I’ll do this for 15 minutes a day, and it knocks out two daily tasks for me (strengthening vocal and brain muscles simultaneously). For further practical use, you can also use it to inject confidence pre-meeting or before any public speaking.
2. Running Meditation
Hitting the pavement can be bliss for some and a bloody chore for many. Personally, I think it’s the golden nugget for clearing the airways, the pores, and the head.
On your next jog, try one thing… scan your body.
Start with your head (your eyes, your cheekbones, your nose, your mouth) and move down your body (your arms, your hands, your chest, your legs). Just notice how it feels, and what muscles or joints are activated.
Importantly, hone in on any pains that you may feel. Focus on the nigglings and analyse its resultant feeling (starting to sound Buddhist-ish now, I know). You may find they disappear. As will the time on the clock, as your run is over before you know it.
The next non-meditation meditation technique can be also applied while running..
3. Listening to Moving Cars
If I didn’t lose the skeptics before, I’ll lose them now!
If you’re at home, if you’re at traffic lights, or if you’re running near a busy street, try this one. Simply centre your hearing to one engine that you hear, and concentrate on the sound until it has completely faded. Then pick the din of another vehicle and try it again.
It’s child’s play but it works.
Focusing on the diminuendoing sound of moving machinery will quieten a chattering mind.
4. Cold Showers
I’m sure practicing presence could be done in a hot shower. But I’m all for these ‘two birds, one stone’ techniques (having realised the benefits of cold water bathing).
Step 1. Turn on shower (Important: omit hot water)
Step 2. Step into it.
Step 3. While confusing your neighbour with profound yelps, try to think about all that shit that’s been bothering you lately.
I know right! Your anxiety shrinks in cold water too.
Several days of consuming relatively bland legumes while at a meditation retreat in Sri Lanka left me willing to eat legumes for several days more. Cómo? Eating meditatively made eating exciting!
My teeth would perform their usual teeth duties, and the helpless chickpeas would be crushed in my mouth. Their soft insides would explode through their shell, and a smoothed paste would form. Bitterness would subside, and a salted vinegar flavour would appear. The slow, repeated beating of my dentures would render them powerless when sliding down my salivated throat.
All of a sudden I was noticing details that had previously gone amiss. It was actually an intense exercise.
Eat your next meal purposefully. Puuurposefully…
Give concentration to the flavours, the texture, the tastes, and the density of your food. Don’t judge (unless you’re dining out, then judge); just take notice.
So for anyone looking to outsource their meditation to other areas of life. Or if you’re like a previous banking colleague of mine who once uttered “you’re into some weird shit” when referring to another’s meditation practice.. then hopefully the above is of some use.