Active Meditation: What, Why, How

Meditation is increasingly popular, for a reason. There are indications that it relieves stress, helps with anxiety and depression, and increases happiness in your daily life.

A meditation practice would appeal to those of us who already go to yoga, use organic cosmetics, and can name all of the body’s chakras. But what if we don’t have time to go to a meditation session, and visualizing a mystical inner light isn’t our style?

The truth is, meditation is for everyone. The goal is not to mimic ancient practices, but to bring a healthy habit into your lifestyle, right here in the twenty-first century.

The key idea behind meditation is mindfulness – being in the moment.

Most of us in this digital age have too much on our minds. Chances are you do, too.

Think about your day today. On your way to work, were you thinking about a task you couldn’t finish? Were you checking your phone and worrying about the messages and emails you haven’t answered?

Meditation means actively focusing on the present, on your surroundings, and on how you are feeling in your mind and body. It can be done anywhere – no incense needed.

You don’t have to be sitting cross-legged, and in fact you don’t have to be sitting at all. In active meditation, you can focus on a task or movement. Here are some ideas for practicing mindfulness today.

1. Exercise. If you are at the gym or out for a run, allow yourself to leave other tasks behind. It doesn’t matter where you’re going after your workout, or what you did and didn’t do earlier.

Focus on the way your muscles feel as you move. Are they a bit sore? Or pumped up with energy? Notice if you are breathing regularly. Which movements do you find pleasant or unpleasant?

Giving your workout your full attention will allow you to perform better, and to relax at the same time.

2. Walking. You can do the same as you are walking to work.

Once you get there, you can worry about the tasks for the day. For now, notice your surroundings: the people in the street, the storefronts, the sounds and smells.

Feel your feet touching the pavement. Are you rushing, or walking at a steady pace? Are your breaths deep, or short? You have to take this walk anyway: make it count.

3. A cup of coffee. Are you stepping away from your work to make a coffee? Take the time to appreciate the drink’s smell, its bitterness and acidity.

The coffee fruit grew on another continent and were brought all the way for you to enjoy. Let it delight your senses.

4. Moisturizing your face or body. We only have a few of those moments of self-care each day, and they are to be savored.

As you are applying lotion, gently massage your skin as you start from your ankles and go up. Gradually, each part of your body relaxes and releases tension.

Similarly, when moisturizing your face, notice the cream’s cool freshness, its texture, and the warmth and ease that come after applying it.

You can also do this while brushing and flossing your teeth. Or having lunch. Or waiting in line at the grocery store. Remind yourself to be present throughout the day. Focus on the moment, and on what feels good – you could be meditating right now.

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