I can’t turn my brain off!!! Meditation Hacks.
Meditation sounds so hard – we picture a Buddhist Monk sitting peacefully, almost a trance-like-state under a tree and having a completely blank mind, void of all stressors or even minor discomfort. This can be intimidating and overwhelming when we then try to ”just” slow down and relax our minds and do what we “should” do to help our minds focus, relax, de-stress, and be open to happiness, fulfillment, mindfulness, and readiness for life. Meditation works to help “sloth off” anxiety chemicals and regulate the brain. This then helps basically everything from ADHD, ADD, Depression, Anxiety, sexual dysfunction, weight management, sleep, etc.
Time to HACK!!! I am big on finding ways to get people to try new treatments and therapies that are not “work.” So I will list a few ways to “cheat “ at meditation.
1. Mindful coloring – yes, we all see the Adult Coloring books on the shelves of every store and even funny ones and pocket-sized versions. The reality is that focusing on one simple repetitive action can be calming and relaxing. Our minds still get to think, but in a focused and relaxed way. This is a huge cheater, and worth a trip to the dollar store for a book and your choice of crayons or colored pencils. Few excuses to not try this at home.
2. Music. Simply listening to music can be a focused meditation. Just close your eyes or focus on the wind blowing through a tree, a lit candle, or some other restful place (black is restful to the eyes). Listen to 2 songs or one In The Garden of Eden by Iron Butterfly, and you are set. This may even be a blow-back to how you calmed those frantic teenage hormones and stressors back in the day.
3. Brain toys!!! I LOVE Gadgets and toys when they are useful and create a product or enrich our lives. There are MANY mind-control toys out there for adults and kids that require you to calm down and focus to be able to play. Anywhere from under $30 to do Jedi Training toy, to an all-purpose headset to use on your tablet, to multi-hundreds of dollar mind-controlled helicopters are out there. The simpler the toy and more use you get, the better. This is a great way to start kids and adults in trying to relax the mind, without turning it off. Who knows? You may even start speaking like Yoda, you will. For mind control toy ideas see this article, but be aware prices and toys change all the time: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/pogue-6-electronic-devices-you-can-control-with-your-thoughts/
4. Yoga – yep you know it, you love it (or at least the pants) and it is everywhere! A simple 10 minute stretch routine can be as helpful, or more, than an hour long intense class if you are able to do it often and work it into your hectic life. There are many apps, posters, and videos out there to guide you.
Overall, you can choose many ways to calm the mind without turning it off or feeling that you need to be a Disney panda bear to find innerpeace. Make room for small 10 minute practices of your activity of choice. Try it at least once a day, and see how you feel in a week. Remember, you are never too old or too young to learn the skills of calming your mind. This is a life skill that will benefit your life simply, easily, and quickly.