I recommend meditation to nearly all of my patients, but not everyone is thrilled to hear it. Sometimes no matter how much you hear the benefits from increased happiness, attention span, fertility, slowing aging, cardiovascular health, etc., it still doesn’t seem to stick. My job isn’t to force wellness down patient’s throats. If the thought of meditation makes your eyes glaze over or your mind to start racing, then maybe it’s better to either replace it or start with something else.
The idea isn’t to add another task to your to do list or to cause more stress in your life, but to find the little things that work best for your body to achieve the maximum physiological and mental results.
6 Recommendations to Achieve Mindfulness, Without Meditating
Breathe Work: Something as simple as paying attention to your breath throughout the day can be hugely beneficial. Do you find you often take rapid and shallow breathing mainly through your chest? Try taking deep belly breaths throughout the day, whenever you can remember and observe how it makes you feel. Belly breathing stimulates the vagus nerve which activates the parasympathetic nervous system (opposite of fight or flight). I also love the 4-4-8 breathing technique, where you inhale for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, and exhale for a count of 8.
Guided Imagery: If sitting down quietly isn’t your thing, try a guided meditation or guided imagery. There’s tons of these available free on Youtube or Spotify. Experiment with a few and see how it feels. Sometimes having a voice guiding you through a peaceful scenario or giving you light instructions is so much easier than simply sitting in silence.
There's an App for That: There are dozens of apps available to help make meditation easier. Some have guided meditations, some help you with breathing or imagery, and some have short duration week long programs that help motivate consistency. The ones I like are: Headspace, Calm App, Insight Timer, and Relax Melodies (which lets you customize your own white noise). Muse 2. I recommend the Muse 2 because you can observe if you are going into heart (HRV) and brain (EEG) coherence.
Connect with Your Body: For my fertility patients, I like to recommend a few minutes of mind-body connection. Place one hand on your heart and one on your lower belly over your womb. Take a few moments to breathe into these places. In Chinese medicine, there is a special meridian that connects the heart to the uterus called the Bao Mai, a critical connection for healthy pregnancy, menstruation, and fertility.
Walking Meditation: Yes this includes the word meditation, but at least it doesn’t involve sitting cross-legged on the floor causing your feet to fall asleep. We always condone exercise at Acubalance, and encourage as much walking as you can manage. But even if you already have a routine, how often are you walking mindfully--without music, podcasts, or your phone? Try going for 20 or 30 minute walk in silence and let your mind drift, observing your thoughts as they flow.
Return to Nature: In British Columbia, we're lucky to live in such a beautiful province: beautiful mountains, forests, lakes, and oceans are easily accessible for most and can provide powerful grounding and nourishing energy. Every region has its natural treasures, though--find yours and immerse yourself in them.
Allison is a licensed Acupuncturist and a registered member of the College of Traditional Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Acupuncturists of British Columbia. Allison is a fellow of the American Board of Oriental Reproductive Medicine (ABORM), a certified laser therapist, and has completed training to supplement her acupuncture practice with knowledge of body movement, alignment, and basic Ayurvedic and Buddhist principles. An avid believer in affordable health care, Allison also volunteers for various community acupuncture clinics. You can learn more about Allison at acubalance.ca/.