6 Times You’ve Probably Meditated Without Realizing It

17 Apr

A beautiful young woman meditating on a cliff at sunset in Montana. | Patrick Orton via Getty Images

It may have seemingly endless benefits, but for some people, meditation just isn’t their thing.

It’s too hard. You get too bored. You don’t think you’re doing it right. We know, we know — try as you might, you just can’t meditate. Or can you?

The truth is, you don’t have to be an expert to have meditative moments. The practice is what you make of it, as long as the end goal of relaxation comes into play. Below are a few times you’ve probably “accidentally” engaged in the calming activity just by going about your everyday routine. Congratulations, you’re a meditator!

The groggy first few moments after your alarm goes off.

turning off alarm

Pretty much the last thing you feel like doing is leaping out of bed when your alarm starts a’ buzzin’. So you lie there, basking in a few more moments of laziness and calm before you begin your day. Maybe you get lost in a series of transient thoughts — which happens in a regular meditation session, so don’t sweat it — but the main point is, you’re taking a few moments of peace for yourself. Isn’t that the overall goal of mediation? (Hint: Yes, it is.)

Your draining subway commute.
How many times do you zone out on public transportation only to snap out of it right before your stop? You fixate on on the well-dressed business man in front of you or the group of friends chatting about their day.

Now, let’s talk about the practice of meditation: In essence, you let your mind solely focus on one idea (or mantra, if you prefer). You clear your head of anything distracting and just exist in the “here and now.” Sound slightly familiar?

They may not be exactly similar, but it’s certainly a start. The point is to be anchored in the moment — and what better way to “zen out” than in the morning when you don’t have the brainpower to do anything but?

A mid-work stroll.

afternoon walk city

Sometimes you just need to give yourself a break in the middle of a crazy day. That mid-afternoon walk you take to find some space clears your head for a reason: It takes your multitasking mind off your long to-do list. A walk allows you to “check out” for a while and just focus on the sidewalk in front of you. And who says that can’t be meditative?

Here’s an added perk: Not are you giving your brain adequate rest by doing this, you’re also subsequently boosting your mood and reducing symptoms of depression by being outside.

Cooking up a delicious dinner.
Let’s face it: Your mind isn’t going to wander when you have a hot stove in front of you. Cooking allows us to be present in the moment and to focus solely on the task or environment in front of us — the very definition of mindfulness. Not to mention, cooking can even be a relaxing outlet.

Now that you know you’re meditating most weeknights, you may as well turn it into a deliberate exercise. These tips can help.

Your evening run.

guy running

Think about your body and your brain when you run. Do you pace your breathing? Do you focus on one tangible landmark ahead of you? Do you feel more relaxed when your workout is finished? Sounds pretty meditative to us. Take stock of these reactions the next time you go for your jog — bonus points for leaving your headphones at home.

A relaxing bath or shower.
A bath or shower is essentially magic at the end of a draining day. Your brain simultaneously lights up and your body relaxes when the warm water hits you. You get lost in the smell of your lavender soap. You let the acoustic sound lull you to peace. Intentionally noticing all of these elements is a form of meditation, so take pride in the fact that you’re actively creating calm for yourself. (Not to mention, a warm bath also sparks a few moments of pure joy.)

This GPS Guide is part of a series of posts designed to bring you back to balance when you’re feeling off course.

GPS Guides are our way of showing you what has relieved others’ stress in the hopes that you will be able to identify solutions that work for you. We all have de-stressing “secret weapons” that we pull out in times of tension or anxiety, whether they be photos that relax us or make us smile, songs that bring us back to our heart, quotes or poems that create a feeling of harmony or meditative exercises that help us find a sense of silence and calm. We encourage you to visit our other GPS Guides here, and share with us your own personal tips for finding peace, balance and tranquility.