While meditation may not seem very “outside the box,” the concept is actually much more broad than you might think. Chanting mantras, listening to guided meditation tapes, and sitting silently while focusing on one’s breathing are all perfectly valid ways of meditating; but, too often, they are seen as the only ways. And that simply isn’t true! All an activity requires to be considered meditation is some method of allowing yourself to step back and quietly reflect – the way in which you do that is entirely up to you. While the options are nearly limitless, the ones I will discuss in this article generally fall into two groups: unplugging and creating.
Today, more than ever, daily life requires people to be switched ‘on’ nearly every waking hour, constantly communicating with one another and blurring the line between work and play. Social media has definitely played a large part in this inclination by allowing us to share everything we do with others in real time, and by extension, have others share their lives with us. This notion is not an inherently bad thing because there are many benefits to this level of connectivity; however, despite the advantages of this phenomenon, it can undoubtedly get overwhelming from time to time. Therefore, it’s sometimes a good idea to simply ‘unplug’ for a bit: log out of your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even email to allow yourself to simply live in the moment for a short while. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve taking a lot of time out of your day either: you can work it in to your commute by walking part of the way home and listening to music, or just taking time on the bus or train to look out the window and silently reflect on the events of that day and how you’re feeling at the moment.
The act of “unplugging” can deviate further from the traditional meditation model by making it into something other than a solo activity: spending time with friends can be equally therapeutic and calming if you do it on a small scale. Rather than checking your twitter feed, call or text a good friend and chat about the events of your day while on that same bus ride home. If possible, have a short visit with that friend in person before your evening commitments. You might find that this simple act can help you not only recharge, but also reframe what might have seemed like a catastrophic event earlier in the day. This reality check is one of the biggest benefits to these methods of stress relief.
Aside from being a versatile medium of self-expression, artistic creativity can provide excellent methods of unconventional meditation. While some people might already find solace in painting a picture or writing a story, even those who consider themselves less artistically inclined can find ways to take advantage of these methods in their day-to-day lives.
One trend that has popped up in recent years is the idea of adult coloring books. Many people have found immense stress relief in the simple act of coloring in pictures, just as they did when they were kids. Of course, these coloring books often have more intricate designs than their counterparts for children in order to keep users stimulated while they lose themselves in the pages.
The positive coloring book, The Miracle Morning Art Of Affirmations, takes this idea to the next level by combining the coloring activity with the more conventional practices and principles of mindfulness that have been supported by scientific studies for years. This book allows you to guide yourself through a daily routine for stress relief. A far cry from the traditional setting of clearing your mind while listening to someone else’s voice, you can color a variety of stylized affirmations that are each coupled with a message to reflect on while filling in your colors. The book also provides information on how to incorporate Life S.A.V.E.R.S., the principles the book was designed around, into your daily life. Best of all, this particular coloring book is not exclusively for adults – kids can use it, too!
Drawing and coloring aren’t the only types of creating that can be combined this way. For example, you can create a small garden to enjoy while sitting on a porch swing and soaking in nature. Another idea is to compose music or write lyrics to allow yourself to express feelings you might otherwise keep bottled up. You can even keep a journal with daily thoughts and positive affirmations to use in a similar way to the aforementioned coloring book. By using this journal to track your progress over time, you can see how much of a difference it makes in your life.
These two broad groups of activities are by no means mutually exclusive: you can mix and match them all you want to find the routine that works best for you. And feel free to branch out more as well, nothing here is an exact guide to happiness. Every person is different, and the more possibilities you explore, the more likely you are to find your perfect match.