Just as there’s no one way to work out, there’s no one way to meditate. Perhaps the biggest myth about meditation is you need to sit still to do it.
“Sitting is definitely the traditional posture of meditation, partly because one of the major points is calming or settling down,” explains Sukey Novogratz, co-author of “Just Sit.” “In terms of convenience in your day-to day-life, though, you may not have time to sit down and stop everything. But that doesn’t mean you can’t activate your mindfulness training.”
Moving meditation is just that — meditating while you walk, do the dishes or perform other simple movements. A great way to start this type of mindfulness is to incorporate it into your cooldown since that’s already part of your routine.
“Meditating right after working out is an amazing time to practice your meditation because it’s what we refer to as a ‘spark time’ — a key moment to practice meditation daily to make it part of your routine,” says Elizabeth Novogratz, Sukey’s co-author and sister-in-law. “If you work out, often it’s a great way to link your meditation to that and have it become a regular practice, as it is more likely you will have a higher rate of success.”
You’ll still reap all the benefits of sitting on a pillow and meditating, too.
“Moving meditation reduces the things that you do automatically and makes you more aware,” Sukey says. “For example, when you’re walking, it brings you back into your body and helps you notice everything around you. Like if you’re leaving your workout and walking home, you pay attention to what you’re passing and what’s around you in ways you hadn’t before. It’s observing without judgment.”
Any meditation also activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which is the “rest and digest” mode, so you relax. Follow these tips from Sukey and Elizabeth to start your cooldown meditation practice.
CHOOSE ANY LENGTH OF TIME
Your meditation doesn’t need to be a specific number of minutes, so simply practice for as long as you’d normally cool down.
STICK TO YOUR ROUTINE — AND BREATHE
While you stretch, observe your breath. Focus on your exhales, which will help put you into a calmer state of mind. Try to do deep belly breaths, which help lower your heart rate. Notice the sound of your breath as you inhale, the sound as you exhale and the sensation of the rise and fall of your belly.
IF YOUR MIND WANDERS …
Let your thoughts enter your mind, observe them, then let them go. Rather than focusing on them, gently bring your attention back to your breath and your cooldown. Keep doing this as often as you need to. With practice, you will be able to focus on your breath without your monkey brain causing distractions.
CONSIDER AN ANCHOR
In addition to observing your breath, saying one word or a mantra in your head, focusing on an image or counting your breath can also help. Or you may focus on your breath and have a mantra as well. Do whatever helps you be in the moment.