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Mind

Beyond Meditation: Simple Alternatives To Practice Mindfulness

26 June 2020

It is no secret that typical meditation takes discipline and a strong ability to control your thoughts, but it is not the only form of mindfulness practice. There are various ways to be mindful or meditate without necessarily sitting still and trying to clear your mind. Dr. Andrew Weil, a world-renowned leader and pioneer in the field of integrative medicine, has a few suggestions for those looking beyond meditation.

TRY MINDFUL COOKING

If you have ever taken to the kitchen during stressful times, the relaxing effects of this may be the reason. According to Dr. Weil, the art of cooking puts you in a focused state, making it a form of moving meditation. This is something the doctor does regularly at home since it nourishes both mind and body. Research shows cooking has mental health benefits tied to improving mood, easing anxiety and raising self-esteem. Keep in mind, you do not have to make complicated dishes. Why not try it during your evening meal preparations?

PRACTICE BREATHWORK

If you are not familiar with this, breathwork refers to exercises or techniques that allow you to control your breathing patterns. This is often used to improve mental, physical and spiritual wellbeing. The beauty of breathwork is that it can be done anywhere, at any time and is free to all. A simple breathing technique developed by the doctor is the 4-7-8 method (below) which acts as a “natural tranquilizer.”

IMMERSE YOURSELF IN VISUALIZATION

If you have difficulty clearing your mind during meditation, the doctor suggests trying visualization or guided imagery as a form of self-soothing that puts your mind in a daydream-like state.

“This is a doorway into affecting involuntary functions of the body and a way of accessing your healing ability,” said Dr. Weil. “Some people say they are not good visualizers, but that really doesn’t matter. It’s about being in this kind of inward-focused state where you disconnect from attending to external reality. By doing that, you begin to gain access to body functions that you normally cannot influence.”

Used for anxiety relief, weight loss, preparation for surgeries and even as a body healing technique, this form of therapy takes advantage of the mind-body connection by using your mind’s eye to experience relaxing scenarios without leaving your space yet benefitting physically from the visualized scenario. The best way to begin, the doctor suggests, is with a professional.

 “You can start out working with a practitioner, although there are a lot of audio programs and videos out there showing you how to do it,” said Dr. Weil. “It is simple, costs little to nothing and has no downside.”

Based on your lifestyle, you can choose the mindfulness practices that work for you. What must stay the same is your ability to practice consistently in order to reap the full mind-body benefits. It is as easy as setting a daily or weekly reminder and choosing to begin.