top of page

How to meditate without knowing you are meditating? Simple activities like colouring and watching birds can destress you

13 Feb 2023

You become so involved in an alternative activity that you automatically cut yourself from disruptive thoughts and anxieties.

Meditation is wrongly perceived to be about sitting cross-legged, shutting your eyes and blanking yourself out. For many of us, shutting out disruptive thoughts and disconnecting ourselves from our immediate environment becomes very difficult as the mind continues to tick. But there is something called the active way of meditating too. Everyone understands the passive way of meditating, simply stop doing and start being. It is withdrawing from all the activities that you are used to and coming to a standstill with self-awareness.


The other type of meditation is active. Simply put, this is about being mindful of everything that you do, switching off the familiar and switching on your responses to newer experiences, even something as simple as walking. You become so involved in the activity and are so absorbed in it that you automatically cut yourself from disruptive thoughts and anxieties. The ways to do this would be something simple, like sitting in the train and watching everybody around you, noticing the countryside rush by and being attentive in the moment. Or just sitting under a tree, feeling the breeze and taking in all that is around you, even focussing on other people milling around. Anything that takes you away from your own preoccupations.


Let’s say you are cooking, reading, gardening, watching a movie; you could be doing it all in a meditative frame of mind by completely dissolving yourself in the moment with passion and not looking at them as routines. Have you ever tried playing games with your family or friends? Have you ever tried going out to the beaches or gardens, and playing with a ball or frisbee? While walking, just focus on your feet, feel the breeze and take in the surroundings. Letting the outside in will automatically distract you from your stressors. When we look around us and let nature seep in through our senses, we engage in what is called a panoramic gaze, which is totally different from indoor visualisation. This stimulates your peripheral vision, which calms down your nervous system.


Nurturing relationships is a great way to stabilise mental balance. Connecting with your parents, grandparents, spending time with them is hugely relaxing. Just touching or hugging them can be healing and restorative.


Even if you are not a painter, colouring motifs is the best form of mindfulness as you focus your senses on getting it right. Often learning a new creative skill can make you feel excited and alive because your brain is being diverted in a new way and momentarily forgets about your other challenges. You may not be a writer but try to pen down your thoughts. Look at it as a self-talk exercise, done with complete honesty and at the end of it, your mind would be far more settled. If you are unsure about doing this individually, join a group activity. You will not feel the stress of your own efforts as your peers will help you shed your inhibitions and step out of your comfort zone.

Meditation is wrongly perceived to be about clearing the mind. But emptying out feels like an additional effort and is less about pleasure. So rather than trying to eliminate it, go with the flow of something you find easy to do. Like relaxing on a park bench and simply watching the birds fly past. Meditation should be effortless. So, any activity that allows you to feel so would help in mind control.

Published in Indian Express

bottom of page