Six Alternatives to Meditation with Similar Benefits

Meditation alternatives

Alternatives to meditation for those who can't sit still

Meditation has helped me manage my anxiety, overcome anger issues, and find some semblance of balance during the most tumultuous periods of my life.

It’s one of the most useful tools of survival, but it’s not for everyone. If you suffer from anxiety, there is a possibility that meditation may do more harm than good. Apart from which, meditation is not easy to practice for some of us. When I tried it for the first time, not only did it not work but also caused a mini breakdown.

Then, I discovered Creative Visualisation which was a game-changer for me. A few months of creative visualisation, journaling, and yoga made it possible for me to find some internal calm. Now, I can meditate for over 40 minutes, no problems! So, If meditation hasn’t worked for you, start with something different. There are alternative mindfulness tools that will give you the same benefits as meditation.

Before we dive into the list, I want to dispel some myths around the meditation technique.

It has nothing to do with controlling your thoughts. A lot of people try to empty their mind and pause all thinking. It can’t be done. When you meditate, you let go – that’s all there is to it. Let your mind wander. 

If you are new to meditation, start by sitting still for just 60 seconds. Let the thoughts come and go. Don’t fixate on any of them. The point is to relax your mind and body. Once you’re able to do 60 seconds without any struggle, increase it to 120 seconds, 200 seconds, 5 minutes and so on. You can master the art of meditation with one tiny step at a time.

Alternative forms of meditation -

1. Breathwork

Breathwork refers to different breathing techniques used to relax the mind, body, and spirit. There are different types of breathwork techniques. You can explore them and find one that works best for you.

Here’s a Healthline article that might help –

Breathwork Basics, Uses, and Types

Studies are revealing that, by changing the patterns of breathing, it is possible to restore balance to the stress response systems, calm an agitated mind, relieve symptoms of anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), improve physical health and endurance, elevate performance, and enhance relationships.

While I don’t follow any particular technique, I breathe deeply enough to feel a slight burn and then I release my breath with a gust. It leaves me feeling tingly and like someone just undid all the internal knots. You can choose a technique for yourself but don’t force yourself to follow any if they don’t feel right. Simple deep breaths are good enough.

2. Creative Visualisation

I have mentioned it already, Creative Visualisation was a game-changer for me. In times of crisis, it is my go-to survival tool.

It’s a technique wherein you create the reality you want in your mind and for a span of a few minutes, you live that reality with every sense at your disposal.

It’s like daydreaming but it has a great deal of intent behind it.

It involves the use of your imagination to create a scene in your head depicting the life of your dreams and you hold onto that mental vision until you feel the associated emotion coursing through your body.

There are many benefits to it –

  • It’s an ideal tool of manifestation
  • By creating visual scenarios in your head, you can associate something positive with a negative stimulus. If your body is a source of anxiety, you can visualise health and fitness.
  • It helps heal past wounds and lower anxiety.

To learn more, read Creative Visualization – Intent, Benefits, and Technique

Vishen Lakhiani’s 6 Phase Guided Meditation is 21 minutes long and it uses the technique of creative visualisation. This meditation is my favourite because it combines the elements of Gratitude, forgiveness, visualization, and prayer. It makes you dig deep and find all the compassion, love, kindness, forgiveness, and belief hiding in the deepest recesses of your heart.

3. Journaling

Writing has been often been recommended as therapy for those with anxiety. It compels you to sort through the thoughts in your head and create a narrative around them that actually makes sense. Whenever your inner monologue begins to overwhelm rational thinking, grab your journal and put it down on paper. This helps you vent and instantly soothe lingering anxiety.

A Journal can also act as a recording, a tangible store for all unresolved, abandoned ideas and emotions. Why it’s recommended as a form of meditation?

It compels us to focus on the moments of our life. We have to pause the chaos in our head and make sense of our life as best as we can. It’s like having a conversation but without any possibility of being judged or inviting external influence.

Writing down all your anxious thoughts may be cathartic. It may also allow you to objectively analyze and process the identified triggers. As you journal all the issues, you may also focus on the positives in your life. A regular gratitude exercise can engender healthier, positive emotions promoting a feeling of well-being.

If you’re confused about any area of your life, do a though-dump with your journal and sort through the muddle, one issue at a time.

Let us rise up and be thankful, for if we didn’t learn a lot at least we learned a little, and if we didn’t learn a little, at least we didn’t get sick, and if we got sick, at least we didn’t die; so, let us all be thankful.

4. Yoga

Yoga combines the benefits of physical exercise and breathwork. For me, it’s the only form of exercise that requires total focus. HIIT is tough and it gives me a burst of energy and beats all my weight goals, but it doesn’t have the healing properties of yoga.

Yoga prepares our body for meditation, and it has about a hundred benefits of its own. There are different types of Yoga and you can try them all to see which one works best for your body.

You can try Yoga with the help of my favourite YouTube Yoga channel – Yoga with Adriene

Don’t be in a hurry to learn the more complicated poses. Start with something easy and do it for 10 minutes a day in the beginning. Gradually, increase the time and difficulty of the practice.

5. Something Creative

If none of the suggestions is to your liking, you can take up something creative. Adult colouring books are being used as a mental vacation. They are considered to be quite helpful for those with anxiety.

Painting, sculpting, pottery, music, dance – all of these require focus and they give you an escape from the daily stresses of life. You can be present in the moment, enjoy yourself, and go back to your life (hopefully) with a changed perspective. These benefits are a lot similar to what meditation does for us. Just pick something a little difficult. If the chosen activity is challenging, your mind won’t wander to the kids or your job. You’ll also have the satisfaction of having mastered something new and difficult.

6. Walking

Easiest of them all!

The only requirement is that you leave your phone at home. Don’t even listen to music. Just be present, enjoy the outdoors, and let your mind do its thing. In the first few moments, you’ll probably  fixate on your problems but gradually, you’ll find yourself relaxing. If nothing else, it’s an excellent opportunity to learn some self-control and with enough practice, you’ll find your attention span improving. Just leave all the gadgets at home.

When all else fails, cleaning and swimming always work for me. The goal of meditation is to heal the damage caused by the push and shove of life. It gives us clarity and peace. All of these benefits can be enjoyed with any activity that requires you to be present in the moment and step away from all distraction. Pick any activity from the list and give it a try.

Painting, sculpting, pottery, music, dance – all of these require focus and they give you an escape from the daily stresses of life. You can be present in the moment, enjoy yourself, and go back to your life (hopefully) with a changed perspective. These benefits are a lot similar to what meditation does for us. Just pick something a little difficult. If the chosen activity is challenging, your mind won’t wander to the kids or your job. You’ll also have the satisfaction of having mastered something new and difficult.

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Hi! I'm Krati Mehra

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I know what it’s like to fall apart and gradually put your pieces back together to build something better than what you had before and I share all my lessons in this space hoping that you will share my learnings without the struggle.

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