Meditation can be done just about anywhere, and you can even do it with your eyes open. It is not all humming and sitting in an uncomfortable lotus position. In fact, after reading this you may realize that you have done some form of meditation without knowing it. These are great ways to de-stress by focusing on what's going on inside you, and just turn off what's going on outside of you.
Personally, I remember meditating a few times the traditional way, and I realized that I actually do this in other non-traditional forms – which made me more open to the traditional options. So, before you tune this out, check out the different ways to help yourself unwind, de-stress, and enjoy some of the many benefits of meditation.
Traditional Forms of Meditation
Focused Meditation – Using the five senses focus on one thing. Any distractions - push them aside to deal with later. Just focus. Do a body scan from head to toe. What hurts? What aches? It can be a physical side. It can be an emotional side. It could be mental. What's going on in your brain and body? What recurring thoughts are you constantly having? Then, you try to turn them off. What a great way for me to turn them off is to just focus on my breathing. You can go from a very kind of anxious, sympathetic state to a calmer parasympathetic state just by controlling your breathing. Research box breathing method and focus on “seeing” your breath in and out of your mouth to the lungs.
Mindfulness Meditation – Observe the thoughts that come into your head while doing this form of meditation. What recurring thoughts are you constantly having? Don’t worry about them, just notice what they are. If they are obtrusive, see if you can categorize them in your brain by giving them a name and letting the brain find a place for them so they will be less obtrusive. See more by researching Name it and Tame It meditation skill.
Guided Meditation – See Ten Minute Guide Imagery Meditation Video and see how to use this form of meditation. This can be done with eyes open watching a series of relaxing photos or a single object and your guide or teacher can walk you through a variety of the senses to focus on smells, sounds, or touch for instance.
Yoga Meditation – Some yoga classes offer the opportunity to do meditation while in various poses and will walk you through the process. Staying in the moment with breathing exercises and pure focus on the poses is a way to practice meditation during yoga.
There are many other forms of meditation going back over 2500 years ago in India. See more information on the many types of meditation.
Non-Traditional Forms of “Meditation” and Focus
Hate to Sit Still? Me too. You can either try meditation prior to bed time or you can use meditation while you are doing yard work, working out, or just listening to music and relaxing.
Think Happy Thoughts – When things are getting bad around you, such as pain, discomfort, tedious, and even boring, meditation is a great tool to endure this and actually get comfortable while being uncomfortable. When in the cold surf zone or on a long ruck, think – THIS WILL END EVENTUALLY, then think about all the things you are going to do when it is over. Take a warm shower, eat something you enjoy, hydrate, put on dry warm clothes, and get into bed. Think about how all of these events will feel when you are doing them. Next thing you know, you are done.
During Runs – When at SEAL Training, there was one rule when running – Stay in the pack. Do not fall behind unable to stay with the class. If you did you got a lot of extra exercise to motivate you to never fall out again. I would focus on the heels in front of me and step in their footprints during runs and when in soft sand that was important to do. Next thing I would know is that 4-5 miles had gone by and we were almost back at the barracks. Getting in the zone by focused meditation is a great way to endure painful events.
Practicing the ability to focus on other “happy place thoughts” when you are experiencing painful activities such as cold, discomfort, noise, and other distractions is a skill that can be practiced during any uncomfortable event. Events such a repetitive workouts, television watching, reading a book, or even mindless activities like yard work require a strong inward focus to endure boring / painful events and even comprehend (TV and reading) in noisy spaces. If you have ever found yourself so focused you lost track of time, you have the ability to meditate for real and really reap the benefits below:
Benefits of Many Forms of Meditation – Many benefits of meditation are critical to the job performance and personal wellbeing of the military member. Most people who thought meditation was not for them, find that it is one of the most important part of their day after learning how to meditate. The author of this article included.
Reduce Depression, Stress, and Anxiety Levels
Improves Ability to Regulate Emotions
Improved focus on productivity at work
Calmness and peace
Better Situational Awareness
More internal awareness (inside your head and body)
Improved Memory and Creative Thinking (Out of the Box)
Take Time for Yourself Even if Only 10-15 Minutes
All day long you are bombarded with stimuli coming into your brain, and as part of the “warrior class” we tend to stay engaged with external or situational awareness – it is just what we do. It is easy to be more worried about everything that's going on around you. For instance, when you go to a restaurant or other public places. You scan everything and everybody. You observe where the exits are and potential places for cover / concealment. Then there are all little things that go in and out of our thoughts. It's nice to be able to turn that off for a little bit, and actually have some internal awareness when you can. We have external and situational awareness all day long. So, now let's just do a scan from head to toe of what's going on in your body. What obtrusive thoughts are coming in and out? Deal with them – Name Them and Tame Them.
If you have never tried meditation – try it. Or if you have found that maybe you do some form of meditation and didn’t know it, keep doing it with greater focus on breathing, body scan internal focus, and just relaxing. Below is a list of places to learn more about meditation and the different ways to practice: