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walkingmeditation

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental health is just as important as physical health, and we’re using this month to spread awareness about mental health and provide some strategies to support your mental health and well-being.

For those of you who value the importance of meditation but have trouble sitting or lying still for 15-30 minutes, you can still practice meditation!

Meditation has many positive influences on our overall health. Studies continue to support these benefits, spanning from cardiovascular health to mental health.  However, many of us feel guilty because we don’t have the discipline or the time to practice meditation regularly, let alone daily.

However, there are a lot of activities in your life in which you can channel some level of mindfulness and see the benefits, even if you don’t consider yourself a person who can meditate. All you need to do is simply take the time to be mindful of what you are doing.

Try focusing only on the task at hand and avoid letting your mind wander.  If your mind starts to wander, simply acknowledge those thoughts, and place your focus back to what you are doing.

This is often the advice of mindfulness instructors, whether the meditative activity is static and still or dynamic, as the ones below. If you are walking, for instance, observe the way the trees are blowing in the wind or listen for the furthest sound in the distance.  If you are listening to music, listen for the instruments that are being played in the song or focus on the details of the words.  If you are coloring, then keep your mind focused on the details and colors in the picture.

Here is a quick list of some things that might work for you to meditate while actively doing something:

  • Go for a walk
  • Listen to music
  • Clean your house
  • Practice yoga
  • Take a shower
  • Craft, sew or knit
  • Write in a journal
  • Coloring in a coloring book

If these don’t work, then you could always try something like the meditation included below.  The following mediation is a simple and short meditation you can do in 1-2 minutes:

  • Take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth.
  • When you are ready take a long easy breath out.
  • Then take a gentle low inhale.
  • Try to allow your belly and your lower ribs to expand instead of your neck and shoulders rising when you breathe in.
  • See if you can take your breath out for about 3 seconds then take your breath in for about 3 seconds.
  • If you find it helpful, say to yourself on the inhale, “I am.”
  • Then with the exhale, say to yourself, “At peace.”
  • Repeat this about 5-10 times.

You can do as many as you like from one minute to several minutes.  You can do this in the car, at your desk, in the grocery line, in a meeting for work, or even before a job interview.

Written by Stephanie Muntzer, MPT, PYT, RYT200, CPI, SFMA, FMSc

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