As mentioned in a previous blog post (TWEAKS 2 MYC #21), sitting meditation, which involves sitting down quietly and focusing your full attention on your breath, while keeping a non-judgmental attitude towards your thoughts, can improve memory, “focus”, and overall brain efficiency as well as decrease stress, anxiety, depression, and pain (Sharma, 2015).
However, it can be hard for some people to sit quietly for 5 to 10 minutes. If this is the case for you, try active meditation. Active meditation has the same principles as sitting meditation, but the only difference is that you perform an exercise/stretch while focusing on your breath, instead of sitting down in a chair.
For this post, we will use the “Air Squat”:
Below are the basic instructions on how to properly practice active meditation:
- Practice this exercise every single day
- Set your timer for 3 minutes
- Do slow and steady air squats for 3 minutes
- Your breathing rate and heart rate should not go up!
- If it does, shorten the range of motion of your squat
- The idea is to synchronize your air squat movement to your breath
- Focus your full attention on your breath going in and out of your nostrils while performing the exercise
- Start by inhaling fully through your nose (pushing your diaphragm out as far as possible) at the top of the position
- As you go down, exhale slowly through your nose
- Your exhalation should be continuous throughout the movement
- At the bottom of your squat, you should be at the end of your exhalation
- As you rise, inhale slowly through your nose
- Your inhalation should be continuous throughout the movement
- At the top of the position, you should be at the end of your inhalation
- When you notice that your mind is wandering (e.g., you are thinking about the past or future, you feel anger or boredom, you label your sensations), simply recognize it and tell yourself “breath” to help you bring your full attention back to your breath
- Keep a non-judgmental attitude towards your thoughts
- Just view your thoughts as thoughts (don’t label them as good or bad)
- Don’t try to stop your thoughts (let them come and go as they please)
You can also choose another exercise or stretch if you want. The idea is to time your breath to the movements you are performing (i.e., inhale when your body expands and exhale when your body contracts) and focusing all your attention on the air going in and out of your nostrils.
Once you feel comfortable doing this 3-minute active meditation exercise, you can add a few minutes to your total time, if you want.
Set goals. Do just one thing at a time. Keep it simple and smart. Do it consistently. Reflect on the process.