6 Everyday Things That Count As Meditation & Chill You Out, According To Experts
Want to know a secret? Even if you think you've never really "formally" meditated before, you might just be an expert meditator already. Contrary to popular belief, mindfulness goes far beyond sitting cross-legged with your eyes closed and emptying your mind. There are plenty of everyday things that count as meditation; it simply depends on how you go about doing those things in your day-to-day routine, and how they make you feel.
It might sound ridiculous at first, but seriously, just about anything you do — even the five blocks you walk to get to the subway every morning — can be meditative in some way. According to clinical psychologist, meditation leader, and yoga teacher Dr. Carla Marie Manly, something as mundane as sipping your morning cup of coffee can easily be considered a meditative experience if you simply make it a point to slow down in the moment, and truly savor everything about it. "In our hectic world, we tend to think that we will have time for peace and quiet some day in the future," Manly tells Elite Daily over email. "We forget that we can have peace and quiet right now — no matter how busy the external world might be."
When working with her own clients, Manly says she often finds that people rush through breakfast, rush to work, rush through dinner, rush to yoga class — all the while forgetting that every moment of rushing is a lost moment of enjoyment. "Whether you are stuck in traffic, eating oatmeal, or weeding the garden, the present moment can be turned into an appreciative and meditative moment by turning your thoughts not to the day ahead, but to the ritual of [the task at hand]," the yoga teacher explains.
Don't be fooled: Manly says it definitely takes practice to transform something simple like laundry into a true act of meditation, but rest assured, your perseverance will pay off. So the next time you find yourself doing any of these six seemingly ordinary tasks, remind yourself that you always have the power to mindfully transform these otherwise blah experiences into rewarding moments of peace and tranquility.
Washing The Dishes
If you think washing the dishes is the worst possible chore you could be stuck with, Gabrielle Freire, a licensed marriage and family therapist based in California, begs to differ. "A meditation I do that is easy is when I'm washing dishes," she tells Elite Daily over email. "I just focus on the task that I'm completing. I look at the plate, I take the dish scrubber, and I am 'mindful' of the circles that I make on the plate — slow, easy, in a rhythm."
It's these little details that make the biggest difference, Freire says. For instance, she makes sure to pay attention to the bubbles washing down the drain in her sink, as well as the temperature of the water, all of which helps her feel relaxed during an otherwise boring task. "Meditation happens because I'm focusing on the dish and the water, and I'm not thinking about the argument I had with a mate or a deadline I missed at work," she explains.
Drinking A Cup Of Coffee
Dr. Jodi Ashbrook, founder and CEO of corporate wellness organization ZenLeader, wants you to ask yourself this question: Do you ever let yourself fully enjoy your very first cup of coffee in the morning? Or do you usually gulp it down in a hurry while you try to slap some mascara on your face at the same time? According to Ashbrook, your morning coffee "can easily be perceived as a form of meditation, without laying down on a yoga mat in complete silence with no distractions."
Ashbrook says she's no stranger to the temptations of diving headfirst into an inbox packed with unread emails over a cup of coffee, or running around in circles to get all of your daily ducks in a row without recognizing the opportunity that a new day brings. But, she tells Elite Daily over email, when you dedicate time to pause, even for just a few minutes, before officially jumpstarting your day, it can be extremely therapeutic and calming. Basically, instead of drinking your coffee while you do something else, try to simply sit down with your mug (and only your mug), inhale the aroma, appreciate each warm sip of coffee, and clear your mind of any negative thoughts that might be putting a damper on your mood that morning.
"For those with a noisy household, I recommend setting your alarm clock 10 to 15 minutes before everyone else typically arises for the day to create your own private space, and begin your day on a positive note," Ashbrook suggests.
Walking Your Dogs
As if your dogs haven't already made your life, like, 10,000 times better, Sarah Moe, co-founder and well-being coach at the business coaching platform Flauk, says your fur babies can also help you meditate. Ugh, too damn pure, those pups.
"When walking your dogs, don't talk on the phone or listen to a podcast; just feel the ground beneath your feet and listen to the sound of your dog's breathing," Moe tells Elite Daily over email. "Rather than rushing your dog along, let him/her stop to smell, and as they do so, you can, too. Smell the air, the flowers, the season changing." Now that is mindfulness, my friends.
Taking A Shower
While Moe says most people tend to think about what they have to get done that day while they're in the shower, that time in the tub can easily be an act of peaceful meditation. "To make this a meditative experience, put some soap or body wash on your hands and close your eyes while you wash yourself," Moe explains. Feel your skin, the bumps, the bones, the curvature. Take a deep breath in and smell the soap. Place yourself in that moment and simply exist there, without allowing your to mind wander toward thoughts of to-do lists or daily chores.
Moe also says taking the time to prepare a home-cooked meal can be meditative. According to the coach, "meditation really just means you're present in the moment, so while you make dinner, don't try to multi-task." Instead, she says, "be patient and watch the water boil. Smell the spices. Listen to the sizzle."
Then, when you eat, take your time. Don't eat in front of your laptop, TV, or phone. Savor each bite and chew fully before digging in for more, Moe suggests.
Sitting In Class
Maybe the last time you sat in class, you were bored out of your mind, or not-so-secretly scrolling through your phone. However, Ellie Shoja, a meditation instructor and founder of the positive mindset coaching service Peace Unleashed, says that for students, a great time to meditate is at the start of a lecture. So yes, that means no more yawns and eye-rolls, guys.
"By focusing entirely on the breath or on the sensations of the body, the student comes into the present moment entirely," Shoja tells Elite Daily. "This primes the student’s mind to wander less during the lecture, and the student will be able to absorb more information than he or she was able to before."
If you're not in school, Shoja says the same meditative practices can be applied in a work meeting as well: By focusing the mind on the breath and becoming completely present in the body during the first few minutes of the meeting, she explains, you'll be able to think more clearly, process the information more efficiently, and tap into solutions more readily. "The best part of this is that employees and students can do this with their eyes wide open, without anyone around them even being aware of the fact that they are setting themselves up for success by meditating for a few minutes," Shoja tells Elite Daily.
Essentially, when you enter a meditative state throughout your days, your spiritual vibration rises and you connect to the wisdom that lives within you, says Shoja. And even though somewhere as mundane as the classroom or office might have been the last place you would have expected to find peace and meditate, it might just be the perfect place for you to start.