Mindfulness Practices You Can Do Without Meditating
Mindfulness Practices You Can Do Without Meditating

Mindfulness Practices You Can Do Without Meditating

Mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety, enhance focus and break negative thought patterns. But meditation isn’t the only way to get headspace. From yoga to journaling, here’s what the experts recommend if you’re looking for an alternative to meditation…
By Tor West

Shift Your Expectations

“For many of us, simply sitting still long enough to slow your thoughts can be a challenge. Or perhaps you aren’t clear exactly why it is you want to meditate, so this practice gets lower down your to-do list. Whatever the reason, shift your expectations. Meditation can be being mindful one minute at a time – it’s about being intentionally present in the present. Try going for a mindful walk, paying close attention to your environment. What can you hear? What colour are the leaves on the trees? The key is to become focused on your surroundings to redirect from the auto-pilot mode we all fall into. By being focused on sounds, sights and smells, you can tune into the present moment – this is a powerful stress reduction technique.” – Alejandra Sarmiento, complex trauma and psychosexual specialist at The Soke 

Experiment With Yoga Nidra

“If you have tried to meditate and find yourself falling asleep, it’s a sign you either need to try meditating at a different time of the day, or you are in a sleep deficit. If you’re tired, rather than pushing on with focused attention, consider that perhaps you need more of a mind-wandering form of rest. Instead, try a lying down meditation, such as yoga nidra, which is a form of guided relaxation. Often referred to as yogic sleep, yoga nidra is a simple but extremely effective relaxation technique. In fact, one hour of yoga nidra is said to be as restful as four hours’ sleep, making it perfect for when you’re feeling below par. Have look online or on Spotify for a guided session.” – Suzy Reading, chartered psychologist

Start Journaling

“Like meditation, putting your thoughts down on paper means you focus on your internal world. The key is to become an observer of your own thoughts and feelings, with compassionate curiosity and non-judgement. If writing down your thoughts feels overwhelming, start with a specific focus. For example, you can start a gratitude journal where your attention is exclusively on what you feel grateful for. Or, perhaps, you can keep a self-compassion journal. This is not about perfect punctuation or creative storytelling but rather about the cathartic effect that comes from emptying your thoughts onto a notebook.” – Alejandra

A lying down meditation, such as YOGA NIDRA, is a simple but extremely effective relaxation technique.

Take Small Steps

“The main reason meditation may not suit everyone comes down to our nervous system. When we come to a meditation practice with a lot of emotions, many of which are deep-rooted within us, it can be extremely challenging (and possibly triggering) to bring the mind to a place of stillness or at least awareness through simply meditating. Meditation is a fantastic self-care tool to help manage mental health, but if you find it challenging, start by doing something creative. You don’t need to be ‘good’ at something to enjoy it. It could be drawing, cooking, dancing, or singing. When we express ourselves, create an experience or are productive, it helps focus our attention and gives us a hit of dopamine, the happy hormone. These emotions also activate several parts of the brain.” – Sophie Belle, founder of Mind You Club

Try Colouring

“This may feel childish but there is science behind why colouring is so relaxing for adults: it reduces activity in the amygdala. The amygdala, part of the brain’s limbic system, is partially responsible for our perception of fear and sadness, as well as helping control our aggressive impulses. Colouring allows our brain to be focused on the activity at hand whilst, at the same time, feeling safe in our environment thereby reducing stress, anxiety and depression.” – Alejandra

Book A Yoga Class

“Yoga is a fantastic way to align your mind and body. A main principle of yoga is that you move in time with your breath, so it physically calms you and makes it easier to bring your attention away from a busy mind. The physical movement in yoga comes with plenty of health benefits too – from improving posture and flexibility through to helping you relax.” – Sophie

DOING SOMETHING CREATIVE focuses our attention and gives us a hit of DOPAMINE, the happy hormone.

Use The Breath

“For many of us, breathing is an automatic process we don't take notice of. However, the simple act of inhaling and exhaling can have a great impact on our mood, thoughts and emotions. We breathe around 20,000 times a day so the importance of the awareness of our breath cannot be understated as a tool to induce a state of calm. Box breathing is a great place to start as it regulates the nervous system. Start by lying or sitting comfortably, placing your hand on your stomach. Visualise a box, and as you work through the practice, visualise moving around the box. Exhale for a count of four, feeling the body gently moving forward, and then hold for four counts, keeping the body relaxed. Then, inhale for four, feeling the body expand, and then hold again for four counts. Repeat for a minimum of ten rounds.” – Octavia Calthorpe, breathwork therapist

Try Grounding

“Take a deep breath, roll your shoulders and sit comfortably. Look around the room and label five things in your head you can see around you. Then close your eyes and come into your body. Find four sensations you can identify and label. This might be the temperature of your skin, the feeling of your clothes, the weight of your body in the chair. Keep your eyes closed, find and label three things you can hear, and then two things you can smell, followed by one thing you can taste. This will bring you into the present and reduce stress levels.” – Anna Davies, integrative therapist and mindfulness and meditation teacher at Self Space

Think Little & Often

“Mindfulness doesn’t have to be something that takes hours. In fact, we learn by repetition, so small, regular bursts are enough to get you started. However you dip your toe in, being mindful will decompress the body and have an impact on the brain, having a positive effect on the way we interact with our thoughts and emotions. It can also help to understand that mindfulness isn’t about stopping your thoughts entirely – that’s impossible. What you want to ultimately achieve is being able to observe your thoughts. Imagine watching a film of your thoughts, and instead of being the central character, you’re observing and noticing. When we’re overwhelmed, it’s easy to take a deep dive into what we’re worrying about, but the trick is to observe, and not react.” – Anna

For more information visit SuzyReading.co.uk, TheSoke.uk, MindYouClub.com, OctaviaCalthorpe.com and TheSelfSpace.com


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