On the topic of meditation, psychologist Mike Brooks explained that, “It’s not about clearing the mind; it’s about focusing on one thing.” Our mind is bound to wander, no matter how experienced you are at meditating.
For many, being left along with your thoughts can be a scary place and that’s why it’s a good idea to focus them on an activity – one thing keeps your concentration on a practical task, so you’re free to completely lose yourself.
Here are some effective ways you can channel your thoughts (and be more relaxed because of it):
If you can’t meditate… try yoga
There’s a reason ancient yogis look so relaxed. One way of looking at the time you dedicate to yoga comes from yogis themselves: there’s an idea that yoga practice isn’t really about exercise, although there are myriad physical benefits to the practice, it’s about self-nourishment. When is there another time of day when you take an hour to just move your body? (Saturday nights don’t exactly count).
If colouring books bore you… try embroidery
Ten points for the concentration factor with this crafty pastime. It takes a lot of careful consideration to be a top-notch embroiderer but it’s something that anyone can do if they make the time. Long, watchful stitches soon become something you might actually want to keep or give away, unlike many of the pages inside a complex colouring book.
If you’re terrible at crafts… try gardening
Don’t worry – being a past perpetrator of plant massacre isn’t going to hold you back from starting again. Don’t forget that gardening isn’t just about putting seeds into the ground and forgetting to water them and therefore perpetuating the cycle that you’re far from a green thumb: there are a lot more meditative activities to that are part of keeping a patch of plants alive.
There’s the subtly soothing act of weeding (do you love that feeling of accomplishment when you can look out over an area and know it’s completely clean? That’s what weeding is like). There’s also the pruning part of gardening (chopping and taking care with the branches of a plant). Both of these activities offer a way to concentrate on something other than your own thoughts. Instead of worrying about the awkwardness of your latest sales meeting, you’ll be far away with determination to rid your garden of intruders.
Also, these adorable gardening goodies help to motivate you to get out there.
If you can’t read… try cooking
We’re continually being reminded that being on screens late at night have a noticeable impact on sleep but after being on devices all day, searching speedily for answers to every conundrum of the day, it’s difficult to find the space to allow a long, meandering sentence envelope us. These days, you’re only four sentences in before you’re thinking, ‘St. Petersburg. That’s in Russia, right? Better check, just for context.”
If reading is still a challenge (and audio books make you feel guilty for just lying there listening), why not try delving deep into cooking for an evening? Chopping, peeling, slicing, frying, steaming… all of these things take your deep concentration to make even a half decent meal and if you’re getting lost in what the difference is between chopping and dicing, then you’ve already won at the mindfulness game.
For bonus points, try a cookbook that will take some serious concentration, like this.
If you can’t turn that phone off… try a face mask
Either the messy one that requires smearing thick gloopy cream over your visage or the one that makes you look like Hannibal Lecter, it doesn’t matter. If you’re ever used a face mask before, you’ll notice it takes a good twenty minutes to get a result and during the time it’s taken over your face, it’s really difficult to do anything except lie there and enjoy the effects. Talk about a perfect bedtime ritual.
This article is brought to you by Collective Hub x lululemon as part of our “From Practice to Purpose” series.