What do you think of when you hear the word ‘meditation?’ Yoga? Monks? The ocean? Hippies?
If these were the types of things you thought of, I’m not going to tell you you're wrong, BUT (and there’s always a but), I am going to have to let you know that your ideas of meditation are a bit outdated.
Of course, the main form of meditation will always be sitting in silence or in a place with little noise/distraction, closing your eyes while focusing on your breath and trying to clear your mind. I admit I practice this form of meditation from time to time! In fact, I’ve even taken courses on techniques to do so. But just because I’ve taken a couple of classes on traditional meditation doesn’t mean I’ve got the technique down. It’s actually pretty difficult for me.
Let’s dissect this a bit...One of the main roots of the definition of “meditate” is to reflect. Typically we see that to meditate means to have that seated, quiet moment of reflection. But come on! If you’re anything like me, you find it hard to sit still for even five minutes of complete silence, let alone doing that without having a million thoughts flowing through your head!
I am a Millennial (at the bare cusp of it, but it still counts). I’m hardly ever not multi-tasking or keeping busy. We, Borderline Millennials, are notorious for an inability to focus on one thing at a time and moving from one task/item/trend to the next in the blink of an eye. That being said, why would anyone think that a silent activity, where the goal is to stop our minds from wandering in a million different directions was actually going to work for us?
Seriously, I asked my friends if they meditate and if they didn’t (most of them), why not? A lot of them said they just couldn’t sit there and do nothing, and I totally agree! It’s hard to do that! But the good thing is, I finally realized that quiet, eyes shut, focused on breathing meditation, isn’t the only way to meditate.
Being that the root of meditation is focusing, why can’t it mean focusing on whatever calms you? I found myself dreading the time of day to meditate because it was always a struggle for me to do nothing, which made this supposed-to-be-calming activity, super stressful. So, seeing as trying so hard to clear my mind ended up being more stressful than therapeutic, I decided to shift my focus to the focus!
I started thinking of times in the past where I felt most calm and most at peace. Once I latched onto a moment, I jotted down what I was doing that made me feel so calm. Eventually, I made a list about a mile long of all the focus-driven activities which made me feel calm. Naturally, I want to share some of those with you.
Rather than sitting still to meditate, I began meditating by putting my focus onto activities that relax me. In Ireland, I would take a walk to the docks and lose myself in the rhythms of the current. If it's a beautiful day outside, I’ll take a trip to the park and swing on the swingset. If it’s 10 pm and I’ve had a stressful AF day, I’ll put on a chill playlist and crack open my notebook so I could journal it out. I read, sing, hang out in the outdoor patio furniture section of Target, go for a drive along the river, clean/re-organize my room, or even bake a cake to meditate now.
No, I’m not doing nothing when I focus on these activities, but, doing them helps me take my mind off of whatever is stressing me out because it allows me to shift my focus onto the present moment and I feel DAMN when I’m done.
And isn’t that the ultimate goal of meditation? Isn’t seeking peace and serenity the point of it? So why are we so determined to classify meditating in silence as the only right way to meditate? As of right now, I’m officially changing the definition of meditation to this:
The act of shifting one’s focus onto an activity which clears the mind and cleanses the soul, in order to achieve inner peace, mindfulness, and utter happiness.
Now that we’ve stepped out of the outdated, traditional mindset of meditation, I’m curious to see how you are going to incorporate more Millennial Meditation into your life. Drop a comment below :D