For a true meditative experience, you must be only doing the task at hand. That is the key: single task.
Technology is great. I love it. I also hate it. I love to write (such as this essay) but I love being off my computer even more. I love tweeting with folks from around the world but I love being present with them even more. I love looking at recipes on pinterest but I love cooking my own recipe even more.
I’ve attempted to meditate dozens of times in the past. I’ll try to commit to doing just 2 minutes a day for the next 30 days. I’ve never lasted more than a week. Why is this? I’m not sure but I’ve discovered another option that I think you will all love.
Why not do what you love to do and only do that one thing? Standard meditation practice is focusing on your breath. That’s one thing. So, again, why not enjoy yourself a little more? In order to be in a meditative state you don’t have to sit and focus on your breathing. Once you realize this truth, the entire world opens up to you.
Are you unsure what would qualify as meditation? Then continue reading. In the end, you will no doubt have an understanding and can start immediately with your own ways (mine are kick ass!).
1. Take a walk outside by yourself without any digital stimulants
In the past, I would always be doing something while walking. Either playing with my iPhone, listening to music or a podcast, talking to myself or someone else, etc. For a unique, meditative experience, go outside for a walk (even 3 minutes is plenty to start) and only walk. Focus on your breathing. Go barefoot or wear Vibram Five Fingers and feel your feet on the pavement, grass, etc. Feel the gentle breeze, look at the beautiful fall colors or perhaps falling snowflakes. Or maybe feel the warmth from the sun. Be in tune with your surroundings but focus on your breathing.
Out of all the ways I meditate, this is my favorite. I’m obsessed with walking which is why I thought of the idea to Walk Across America on April 30, 2012. This has evolved into something beyond epic and I’ll begin melting the butter over the coming weeks. Most of the time while walking I’ll be listening to music or a podcast. It beats the noise of traffic after all. But when I get that chance to listen to the music of nature, I definitely soak it up.
2. Cook an epic meal
Do it from scratch for your significant other, family or friends. Is there a recipe you found online (perhaps via pinterest) or inside one of your favorite cookbooks that you have been meaning to make for weeks, months, or even years? Make it. Now.
I usually cook very simple meals. Sometimes, however, I will pick a recipe from a cookbook (Practical Paleo right now) and follow it pretty much exactly how it’s laid out. I focus with intent and purpose on what I am doing. No distractions of any kind. I enjoy the entire process including cleaning up. I may be in the kitchen for just 30 minutes or up to a few hours. The benefits are exceptional.
What recipe are you going to make next? Primal Dining with Toad can help.
3. Clean the dishes
Go slow and focus on washing or at least rinsing each and every dish as best as you can. Take pride in your work. Do nothing else. Don’t even listen to music. Instead, listen to the music of the dish washing or rinsing.
I personally love washing the dishes. Over the past few months I’ve decided to thoroughly enjoy this wonderful task. I focus with intent on purpose and feel a huge relief once the job is complete. I rinse the plates, bowls, silverware, etc. and store that in the dishwasher. I hand wash pots, pots and usually cooking utensils.
Cleaning the dishes is a form of meditation that I enjoy on a near daily basis. What about you?
4. Animal watch
Birds are amazing creatures. They can, um… fly! How awesome is that?! Have you ever stopped to fathom what they are doing? They don’t even have to flap their wings. They just glide through the air as easily as we can walk. No matter where you are, I’d bet you can find a few birds to watch. If not, go somewhere that does. Listen to the birds chirp their tunes. Chirp back at them. Smile. You live in an amazing world.
Sick of the birds? Watch squirrels or chipmunks. To me, these fellas are beyond hysterical. While walking around my neighborhood I’ll hear them chowing down on a nut. I’ll look up into the tree and if it’s on a low branch and close to me then I’ll just stare for a while. I may grab a nut and chuck it at them too. They never get hurt; it’s more of a fun game for both of us. How cool is it that a Toad can throw nuts at a squirrel? It’s fun watching them climb higher into the tree.
If I could be any other animal in the world it would be a squirrel, chipmunk or some kind of bird. Imagine being able to fly with ease or climb trees without any fear at lightening fast speed.
5. Go to a lake or other scenic area
There is a reason that we are drawn to lakes, rivers, oceans, beaches, green grass, trees, the woods, clouds, storms, rain, the sun, snow, etc. We have been living in this environment throughout our entire existence. Today we are literally what Erwan LeCorre calls us: zoo humans.
We all need to get our ass outside as much as we possibly can. What are you drawn to most? Go there. Now! Every single time I am surrounded by pure beauty, any sort of stress goes by the wayside. I feel at ease and at peace. Even just being outside can do the trick. But why not take it a step further? Listen to the waves crash on the shore while the birds chirp. Feel the sand or grass in between your toes. Relish the moment.
6. Star gaze
Why does the far majority (99% perhaps) enjoy looking at the stars? Because we have been doing it ever since our existence. It does not matter if you believe we have been living for only six thousand years or two and a half million years; we love to look at the stars.
Why is this?
The stars are beyond amazing. Every single one of those bright lights is amazing to me. The fact that we know what many of them are (Mars or Venus for instance) and that we can identify the small and big dippers or Orion’s belt, makes us all geniuses. We have identified 88 constellations in all. Pure awesomeness.
So look up at those stars. Just stare into the sky, perhaps next to a fire that you built and started (and maybe you even cooked meat you hunted and veggies you picked?), while cuddling with a loved one. The benefits of this exceed your standard meditation practice.
7. Listen to chill music like Jack Johnson or Bob Marley
When you listen to music, do you ever just listen to music? I am not saying that listening to music while doing other things like dancing, working out, working on the computer, etc. are bad. But listening to music with your eyes closed is a great form of meditation.
So, have you?
I rarely do. But when I do, it’s amazing. It turns into a meditative experience. I focus on the lyrics and become relaxed. There is deep meaning behind the words of music and even the craft of instruments. What do the words mean to you? How do they connect to what you are going through in your life? Forget everything that stresses you out and listen to every single word.
Why is chill music best? Think about it. I have a ‘Pump me Up’ list for Spotify to get me going! If you want to get in a meditative state choose music that allows you to stay still. To focus on the lyrics and the beat. Jack Johnson is my all-time favorite artist of any kind, so he’s always my go to. I’m also a big fan of Bob Marley.
What are your favorite chill music artists? What are your favorite ways to meditate? Share in the comments below!