Have you ever wondered how you can spend the day doing absolutely nothing and yet feel more exhausted than you began? Well, consider how you are spending your downtime. According to a new Nielsen Company audience report, American adults devote roughly 10 hours each day to consuming various forms of media. This statistic may seem exaggerated, but when you consider the amount of time spent answering text messages, scrolling through social media, and unconsciously digesting sidebar advertisements, nearly half of your day is spent staring at a screen. And it takes a substantial amount of mental energy to digest all of that media. “Elon Musk wants to put WHAT inside our brains?” or “How to get rich by sleeping 12 hours a day!”. You may never actually click on these types of pop-up advertisements, but if your brain determines them to be of value or interest, it naturally and unconsciously absorbs the information.
On your next day off, consider the following
The answer to relieving the accumulated exhaustion and stress of life cannot be found online. Instead, you can accomplish this by establishing a deeper connection to yourself and your surroundings. Mindfulness and meditation are more than trendy health buzzwords. A genuine commitment to these ancient practices will yield a plethora of health benefits. However, if the idea of sitting still for an hour while listening to the mating calls of whales is not of much intrigue, there is a relatively new alternative. Active meditation is a nuanced style meditation that advocates movement followed by silence. Created by Indian mystic Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, or Osho as he would later be known, this form of meditation has been practiced by millions of people around the world since its conception in the early 1970s.
The peaceful meditative state you are seeking looks different today than it did when it first came into practice 2500 years ago. The traditional seated breath-based meditation, first established by the Buddha, advocates for anchoring oneself to the present moment through mindfulness. At its core, active meditation advocates for the same. They have the same intent; to lead to inner silence and stillness. However, the practice of active meditation is more conducive with the fast pace of the 21st century.
Follow these instructions for your first exercise in active meditation: mindful walking
1. Before you begin your walk, consider several things. First, set aside at least 20 to 30 minutes for your excursion. Secondly, Find a relatively even terrane away from heavy traffic and general distractions. Finally, ditch your headphones and put your phone onto silent. Meditation is a time for introspection. Your phone should not be a priority.
2. At the beginning of your walk, stand very still. Close your eyes and focus on matching the lengths of your inhales with the lengths of your exhales.
3. Begin your walk at a normal, steady pace.
4. Set your intention to focus fully on your surroundings and the sensations of your body: the air against your skin, your feet on the ground, the changing scents and sounds as you walk along your path. Focus on releasing the tension from your head.
5. Finally, end your walk the way you began. Stand still, close your eyes, and take deep breathes.
Information and sensory overload seem to be indicative of life in the 21st century. As a corollary, you may experience exhaustion and stress. This fact should not discourage you from attempting to reconnect your mind, body, and spirit. Your meditative state arises when you connect to yourself and your surrounds. If you are not interested in the traditional form of meditation, try this widely practiced alternative.