15 Alternatives to Sitting Meditation
No longer the sole province of the hemp-swathed sprouting enthusiast, meditation’s popularity has exploded across our collective faces. Tech companies have embraced mindfulness meditation as the ultimate productivity. Google has “mindful lunches,” complete with prayer bells and hour-long vows of silence. And as legitimate meditation researchers uncover more benefits to our brains, our bodies, and our psyches, diehard rationalists have been forced to accept the scientific merits of mindfulness.
My explanation for why interest in meditation has grown is that it’s a replacement for the nature in which we no longer reside. For hundreds of thousands of years, we spent our days in natural settings where much of the mind chatter stops and we exist in the present moment. The falling leaves sparkling overhead with sunlight. The herky-jerk scamper of a startled lizard just off the trail. The erratic brilliant butterfly fluttering through the scene that you can’t help but stop to watch. That was life for most of human history. It wasn’t special. It was home. It’s what we knew.
Meditation represents a return to that ancestral state of presence in the moment. And yet I get the sense that more people are talking about meditation than actually meditating on a regular basis. I’m one of them, quick to recommend meditation on MDA because of the irrefutable benefits but unable to actually sit for a productive session, let alone a regular meditation routine. It’s hard. It’s unnatural. And it’s an artifice, albeit one made necessary by our environment.
Meditation has been shown to provide remarkable benefits to those who manage to stick with it, including but not limited to:
- Lengthening of telomeres.
- Upregulation of genes responsible for energy metabolism, longevity, mitochondrial function, inflammation, and insulin secretion.
- Blood pressure normalization.
- Stress reduction.
- Greater resistance to stress.
- Improved cognitive function by reshaping the actual brain.
- Promoting neuroplasticity.
- Anxiety reduction.
- Immune system improvements.
If we simply don’t enjoy meditation or can’t make it work, what options do we have? How can we get some of those attractive effects of meditation without actually sitting in a room for 30 minutes a day, every day? Here are 15 alternatives: