I’ve accepted that meditation is hard for me. I’m not great at sitting still and letting my mind clear and only focusing on my breath. I’ll continue to practice and hope that my three minute meditations can eventually, with practice, turn into 20 minute…

10 Alternatives to Traditional Meditation

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SARAH PETERSON

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I’ve accepted that meditation is hard for me. I’m not great at sitting still and letting my mind clear and only focusing on my breath. I’ll continue to practice and hope that my three minute meditations can eventually, with practice, turn into 20 minute meditations. In the meantime, I’ve embraced there are plenty of ways to clear my mind from all the daily chaos and letting it truly rest. If you struggle with meditation but are looking for ways to rest your mind, here are some alternative methods to try:

Read Fiction

Fiction reading is meditative because it truly allows your mind to escape to a different reality. The plot and characters consume you and you leave your world and enter a brand new one each time you pick up the book. This allows your mind to take a break from your own thoughts, problems, stresses. You will find the act of sitting still, slowing down and quieting yourself truly restorative.

Exercise

Yoga can be meditative. When you focus on your breath while holding a pose, it’s impossible to think about anything else. The mind is present and clear. Running is similar–the focus is completely on your breath, your pace, your strides. All exercise (team sports too!) truly allows your mind to focus on movement, coordination & anticipation–allowing it to truly rest from any stress and brain chatter.

Tinker

Figure something out or solve a problem. When tinkering with a new gadget, app, tool or game, the mind truly clears. You completely focus on that tinkering process and commit to figuring out the solution. Try to find something that helps you enter a zone of problem solving where you are more focused on finding the solution than consumed with your thoughts or stresses. Ideas to try: assemble furniture, edit photos in Photoshop, try a brain game app, fix something that’s broken, finish a crossword puzzle, or reorganize a space.

Work With Your Hands

Coloring, painting, beading, knitting, woodworking, crafting, scrapbooking, playing music–it’s all meditative. Doing these kinds of things allows you to truly zone out. The repetitive nature of working with your hands allows your mind to focus on what you’re creating, not on the clutter of your thoughts. Hours can pass and it can feel like minutes. I call it entering the “Creative Zone” which is so important for reasons I explain in this post.

Spend Time with an Animal

Animals are the best at being in the present moment, and being around that is contagious. Spend time with an animal–the energy animals give off is peaceful and healing. Try to lay quiet with your pet and feel the soothing energy the two of you create together.

Sing

It’s impossible to actually think about anything when you’re in the midst of belting out your favorite tune. It’s a true escape–and hard to feel anything other than euphoric while singing. According to scientists, singing is great for your mental health. There’s evidence that endorphins and oxytocin are two chemicals released from singing and when combined together, they can bring pleasure and alleviate stress, according to TIME.  So go ahead and sing your entire favorite tune–even better join a singing group. Stacy Horn, author of Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing With Others writes:

Group singing is cheaper than therapy, healthier than drinking, and certainly more fun than working out.  It is the one thing in life where feeling better is pretty much guaranteed.  Even if you walked into rehearsal exhausted and depressed, by the end of the night you’ll walk out high as a kite on endorphins and good will.

Walk

Go for a walk–without your phone. Slow down, this is not a race. Focus on your posture, your feet connecting to the ground, the rhythm of your stride, your arms swaying. Be aware of your body and the way it moves and feels. Find a pace that feels comfortable and relaxing. Focus your attention on your breath while counting your steps or repeating a mantra.

Go to the Movies

This option is specifically different from watching Netflix at home. When you go to the cinema, you physically put yourself in space where you commit to entering an alternative reality. The surround sound, the darkness, the big screen, all help you escape and allow your mind to check out. When you watch a movie at home it’s possible to still distract yourself with your phone, laptop, laundry that needs to be done, and more. So GO! to the movies and allow yourself to get lost in the another world. Don’t forget the popcorn.

Sit in the Grass

Sit in a quiet shady spot in the grass and lay on your back. Watch the clouds go by. Look for shapes like you did when you were a kid. Watch how the wind moves the trees’ leaves. Listen to the singing birds, feel the temperature of the day. When your mind starts to chatter again, make it stop and refocus on the subtleties of your surroundings. Each time your mind wanders, bring it right back to what is happening around you.

Visualize Your Life

When it’s difficult to meditate by only focusing on your breath, try meditating on specific moments you wish to manifest in your life. If you wish to find love, visualize yourself walking down the street with a future partner, imagine the way he/she smells, envision the way you will laugh together and how you will feel with him/her at your side. Whatever stresses might exist in your life, visualize it no longer being an issue. For example, if it’s car trouble, visualize yourself driving a new, beautiful, problem-free car; imagine placing your groceries in the trunk and sitting behind the wheel while driving off to your destination without issue.

We all experience endless mind-racing and the need for our brains to take a real break. Alternatives to meditation can benefit us all, and lead to a more mindful existence, better health and overall happiness. Try one of the above ideas, and write in the comments your favorite way to let your mind rest.

LAST UPDATED:

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January 31, 2018

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Hey, I'm Sarah!

Designer, DIYer, & Deep Googler

I've always been infinitely curious on how the things I love are created. Whether it's the recipe of a decadent soap, a beautiful piece of jewelry, or a jaw-drooping, drool-worthy interior... I have an persistent need to figure it out... and do it myself!

Learn more about me

SOLID PERFUME STICKS

LABEL MAKER

"LOVE" ART PRINT

FAUX FUR BLANKET

FLAUNT PHONE CASE

PERFUMIES.COM

amazon

society 6

anthropologie

FLAUNT.COM

Change the way you wear and carry perfume with these perfume sticks that fit in your pocket!

When in doubt, label everything. I'm amazed at how long this little machine's batteries last.

Got this one after my husband popped the question. It's how I feel when I'm with him!

The coziest blanket you'll ever find. So good I gifted them in different colors to my beloved wedding guests!

Currently using this--it's the perfect shade of radiant orchid pink, and I love the square corners!

Fiberclay PLANTER SET

SHEEPSKIN rug

PLANTER (for DIY CANDLE)

IMITATION Pothos

Bisley FILE CABINET

michaels

etsy

amazon

michaels

container store

Scatter a cute planter set from Michael's around your home--it will make your decor feel cohesive.

I throw these everywhere... the floor, my work chair, the couch. They are 100% worth every penny.

I love to turn planters  into large DIY candles. It's my favorite gift to give... Everyone loves a huge multi-wick candle!

Shhh... When I want my plants to cascade more, I add in an extension like this while they grow.

I used two of these sleek Bisley cabinets under this delicious slab of wood to DIY my dream desk.

HANDMADE CERAMICS

MICRON black PENS

Fanny Pack // BELT BAG

SCARF NECKLACE

THRIFTED DESIGNER SCARF

calLahan ceramics

amazon

shopbop

mignonne gavigan

thred up

Sign up for alerts, it's almost impossible to purchase these beauties before they sell out!

These are the only pens that let me write neatly. There's something magical about them! #01 is my fave size.

The fanny pack has officially changed my life for the better. No more big bag shoulder and back pain!

The most beautiful handmade accessories around. (I wore MG "Burst" earrings for my wedding!)

Make money on clothes you no longer wear, and find designer goods (with tags still on!)

Storm Cloud Wall Art

Tillandsia AIRPLANT

FLORAL Macbook case

Distressed Mirror

GLUE GUN

anthropologie

amazon

etsy

anthropologie

amazon

Living in LA's perpetual sunny and 72 degree weather has made me LOVE clouds because I so rarely see them!

The most low maintenance plant on the market. Find a cool planter and plop it in. Mist every 2-3 weeks.

I've cracked too many screens in my lifetime to not protect my devices. Love this feminine floral hard case.

A mirror that looks like a moon? Make it a full moon everyday in your house!

Everyone (and I mean everyone) should go through life with a trusty glue gun by their side.

uline hair detangler

Silicone ALPHABET MOLD

fave white tee

THERMAL LABEL PRINTER

e6000 GLUE

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

The best detangler I've found. I throw the travel size bottle in my gym bag, travel bag, and beach bag.

These ABC molds allow for ample DIYs. Jello, melt and pour soaps, crayons... the fun really will never end!

My favorite white tee. I've bought about 18 of them by now. Best cut v-neck, long in the body, high quality. (Why not get a few.)

Print a lot of labels and tired of buying ink for your printer? Get this thermal printer and never buy an ink cartridge again.

This is the glue that holds my life together. No really... I use it for everything.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

Caudalie BEAUTY elixir

Candle Making Pitcher

singer sewing machine

photography backdrops

amazon

amazon

amazon

amazon

replica surfaces

100% my most favorite portrait lens. Do yourself a favor and add it to your cart immediately.

I take this face mist with me while traveling and instantly feel more refreshed and awake after a few spritzes!

Never buy a candle again! Use this to DIY your own (they smell better, burn longer, and save money).

This is the sewing machine I used to DIY my wedding dress! Easy to use, I recommend it to any level sewist.

I use these surfaces to shoot styled stock, product, and brand photos that need clean, realistic backgrounds.

PLANTER (for DIY CANDLE)

amazon

I love to turn planters into large DIY candles. It's my favorite gift to give. Everyone loves a huge multi-wick candle!

LABEL MAKER

amazon

When in doubt, label everything. I'm amazed at how long this little machine's batteries last.

"LOVE" ART PRINT

society 6

Got this one after my husband popped the question. It's how I feel when I'm with him!

FAUX FUR BLANKET

anthropologie

The coziest blanket you'll ever find. So good I gifted them in different colors to my beloved wedding guests!

FLAUNT PHONE CASE

FLAUNT.COM

Currently using this--it's the perfect shade of radiant orchid pink, and I love the square corners!

Fiberclay PLANTER SET

michaels

Scatter a cute planter set from Michael's around your home--it will make your decor feel cohesive.

SHEEPSKIN rug

etsy

I throw these everywhere... the floor, my work chair, the couch. They are 100% worth every penny.

IMITATION Pothos

michaels

Shhh... When I want my plants to cascade more, I add in an extension like this while they grow.

Bisley FILE CABINET

container store

I used two of these sleek Bisley cabinets under this delicious slab of wood to DIY my dream desk.

HANDMADE CERAMICS

calLahan ceramics

Sign up for alerts, it's almost impossible to purchase these beauties before they sell out!

MICRON black PENS

amazon

These are the only pens that let me write neatly. There's something magical about them! #01 is my fave size.

SOLID PERFUME STICKS

PERFUMIES.COM

Change the way you wear and carry perfume with these perfume sticks that fit in your pocket!

Fanny Pack // BELT BAG

shopbop

The fanny pack has officially changed my life for the better. No more big bag shoulder and back pain!

SCARF NECKLACE

mignonne gavigan

The most beautiful handmade accessories around. (I wore MG "Burst" earrings for my wedding!)

THRIFTED DESIGNER SCARF

thred up

Make money on clothes you no longer wear, and find designer goods (with tags still on!)

Storm Cloud Wall Art

anthropologie

Living in LA's perpetual sunny and 72 degree weather has made me LOVE clouds because I so rarely see them!

TILLANDSIA AIRPLANT

AMAZON

The most low maintenance plant on the market. Find a cool planter and plop it in. Mist every 2-3 weeks.

FLORAL Macbook case

etsy

I've cracked too many screens in my lifetime to not protect my devices. Love this feminine floral hard case.

Distressed Mirror

anthropologie

A mirror that looks like a moon? Make it a full moon everyday in your house!

GLUE GUN

amazon

Everyone (and I mean everyone) should go through life with a trusty glue gun by their side.

uline hair detangler

amazon

The best detangler I've found. I throw the travel size bottle in my gym bag, travel bag, and beach bag.

Silicone ALPHABET MOLD

amazon

These ABC molds allow for ample DIYs. Jello, melt and pour soaps, crayons... the fun really will never end!

fave white tee

amazon

My favorite white tee. Best cut v-neck, long in the body, high quality. (Why not get a few.)

THERMAL LABEL PRINTER

amazon

Print a lot of labels? Get this thermal printer and never buy an ink cartridge again.

e6000 GLUE

amazon

This is the glue that holds my life together. No really... I use it for everything.

Sigma 35mm 1.4 lens

amazon

100% my most favorite portrait lens. Do yourself a favor and add it to your cart immediately.

Caudalie BEAUTY elixir

amazon

This face mist instantly will make you feel more refreshed and awake after a few spritzes!

Candle Making Pitcher

amazon

Never buy a candle again! Use this to DIY your own (they smell better, burn longer, and save money).

singer sewing machine

amazon

This is the sewing machine I used to DIY my wedding dress! Easy to use, I recommend it to any level sewist.

photography backdrops

replica surfaces

I use these surfaces to shoot styled stock, product, and brand photos that need clean, realistic backgrounds.