Meditation for Haters
Average Read Time: 5 minutes
5 Ways to Cultivate Mindfulness That Don’t Require Sitting Still and Not Thinking
For some of us, meditation is 100% unappealing. And while meditation isn’t mandatory to thyroid-healthy living, some sort of mindfulness practice is an integral part of a whole-health routine.
We all need to clear our heads. Technology jumbles our minds. The news gives us information we can hardly process. We are blasted with overload, and with so much competition for our attention, disturbing words and images regularly penetrate our headspace. These are strange and extreme times we live in, and cultivating clarity, peace, and calm, well… it ain’t gonna happen by itself!
In fact, without effort taken towards clearing our mental cache, overwhelm can take root in our minds and become normalized. In other words, we accept a level of stress that maybe we shouldn’t.
Mindfulness isn’t only about the mind, but the body too. It’s easy to breeze through our days barely aware we have a body. How can we feel whole without pausing to remember the sensation of being alive and present in our own body?
Without a way to tune-in, unload and unwind, a high-stress, disconnected existence can persist as one of our most deeply-rooted root causes of disease. The links between chronic stress and illness, including stress and autoimmune disease are regular medical journal fare these days. We are some stressed out and increasingly sick people here in the modern world!
I Speak From Experience…
I am a Hashimoto’s patient who has used diet and lifestyle to reclaim my life. Believe me, I am not the perfect thyroid patient, but I can cook up anti-inflammatory meals like a GF/DF ninja! I can do adrenal-friendly workouts till the cows come home! But when the time comes for meditation or other forms of self-care? It’s always the first casualty of my busy schedule.
The only way I’ve been able to meditate consistently is through using a team-based wellness game for accountability and motivation. In order to earn my daily self-care points, I committed to daily meditation throughout. I didn’t want to let my team (or myself) down so each night I would put my headphones on when I got into bed, and use a meditation app (like Headspace or Insight Timer) to power down.
The crazy thing was, it worked. Sure, I missed a day here and there, but I became a regular meditator. I was no longer meditating once in a while and thinking, I should do that more often, I actually was doing it more often!
Not only did this regular mindfulness practice improve my sleep quality, it made my hair stop shedding, and noticeably reduced my general stress level. Peaceful became my new normal. Moments of bliss delighted me throughout the day. And who knows what kinds of other magical, cellular healing was occurring as I visualized orbs of healing blue light hovering over my thyroid, or relaxed into a sleep-like trance with a guided meditation.
Ultimately, my success in using this tool to adopt healthy habits led to the creation of our team-based wellness adventure, THYROID30. We wanted to enable other thyroid patients like us to implement healthy lifestyle changes and reap the rewards.
I kept my meditation practice going for months. It was glorious. And then I got kind of bored. And then my headphones stopped working. And then I moved on to other things, like not meditating. Don’t get me wrong, I love meditation, still utilize it, and will circle back around to a more regular practice again, but this article is for the haters, remember?! Let’s get back to that…
What to Do When we Simply Hate, Get Bored With, or Even Just Mildly Dislike Meditation?
Below are 5 ways you can achieve the chill vibes of a regular meditator, without sitting and doing nothing with your eyes closed (while you’re actually thinking about tacos for dinner).
1.) BIRD WATCHING
Don’t laugh! Bird-nerding is a great past time for those random moments when you’re waiting for water to boil, or the bus to come. A set of binoculars and a bird book make it more engaging but are entirely optional. Birds bring wilderness and wildness to pretty much every landscape on the planet, no matter how urban. Pay attention, and before you know it you will be tuning into “Days of Our Birdie Lives” for another fascinating episode.
2.) Mindful Eating
Next time you find yourself dining alone, try slowing way, waaaaay down. Take a few deep breaths before picking up your eating utensils, and visually take in the bowl or plate before you. Smell the fragrances of the food. Notice the colors and textures. Ponder the ingredients. How much sunlight, water, soil, and human touch went into getting them onto your plate? When you take a bite, use all your senses. Unpack every layer of flavor, no matter how simple the meal. How will it nourish your body? Even a single raisin can become a profound morsel when savored and appreciated this way.
3.) Walking Meditation
Walking meditations are a great option for the restless and wiggly among us. Begin with some deep, grounding breaths, and then use your senses to tap into a deeper awareness. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “The earth is sacred and we touch her with each step.” Go slower than your typical destination-type walk. Feel your feet on the ground, and the shoes on your feet (if you’re wearing any). What does the day smell, feel, and sound like? Are there birds? What are they doing? What are the clouds like today? What does the air feel like going into and out of your lungs? Guess what. You just gave your mind a little vacation, without sitting still.
Qigong is like a moving meditation combining breath and energy. If you’re using THYROID30 to make healthy life changes, Qigong is an incredible tool because you not only score points for moving your body (Reactivate), but also for self-care (Rejuvenate). Brodie Welch describes Qigong as a movement multi-vitamin. You can try one of her 10-minute Qigong videos HERE.
Prayer means different things to different people. It can be religious or not. It can be a memorized string of words or it can be free-form. In my mind, prayer is like meditation minus the pressure to clear the mind and have no thoughts. Instead, we create a quiet space for ourselves to give words to our deepest desires, wishes, pain points, gratitudes, and questions. It doesn’t have to adhere to a belief system unless you want it to, but it can be a way to connect with the inner and outer divine. In the words of poet Pádraig Ó Tuama: “Prayer is rhythm. Prayer is comfort. Prayer is disappointment. Prayer is words and shape and art around desperation and delight and disappointment and desire.”
- Adult Coloring Books, especially mandalas
We hope this has given you some inspiration and fresh ideas for how to uplevel your wellbeing with a mindfulness practice, no matter what form it takes. It’s not about perfection, it’s about finding what works for you, and making small, sustainable steps towards a vibrant, healthy lifestyle.
I have no doubt that what helped me become a regular meditator was the support of a team-based wellness adventure. Motivation, accountability, rewards, support? These are the pieces so often missing in our efforts toward healthier lifestyle choices. Having those pieces available helped me lock that meditation habit in hard, for half a year! That’s no small thing. I could beat up on myself for falling off the wagon, but, I know I can go back to THYROID30 whenever I need to refresh and return to those good habits.
Wishing you peace, calm, and abundant good health!