Five non-traditional ways to meditate

Meditation has been getting all the buzz lately in the media and on social media. It seems like everyone and their dog meditates these days.

I’ve tried PLENTY of times to sit in a room with legs crossed and eyes closed, hoping for some sort of miracle to happen. I even downloaded the app Headspace, hoping that guided meditation would help me enter this like alternate reality or something.

I had this vision in my head that meditation was supposed to look a certain way. I was supposed to feel a certain way.

Though, I have experienced immense relaxation through the traditional meditation practice, I’ve also felt incredibly frustrated and like a failure when I couldn’t accomplish something that’s supposed to be so easy. I realized that overall, it was actually making me feel worse every time I couldn’t get it right. I just couldn’t clear my head and sit still.

I know that meditation takes years and years of practice, but I thought deeply about the whole point of it. The reason meditation is so useful is because it clears the mind of thought and allows you to grab control of the thoughts that run in and out on a daily basis. Time slows down and we are able to process our thoughts and control our breathing.

I started paying attention to other activities in my life that gave me a similar, if not exact, feeling like I had when I was in the flow of meditation.

AND QUITE FRANKLY, I’m tired of the internet constantly telling us how we’re supposed to do things. What is right and what is wrong. *cue middle finger*

So I wanted to share some of the other ways that I “meditate” in order to achieve calm. And let you know that you aren’t doing it wrong if you can’t sit still for 15 minutes straight every day.

Here are FIVE non-traditional ways that I find just as useful as traditional meditation:


Exercise, particularly running, is extremely therapeutic for me. It’s a time when I focus only on my breath. When thoughts come in my head like “I’m tired. I want to give up”, I’m able to gain control of how I’m feeling and distinguish if those are just thoughts or feelings. Time slows down when I’m running. A minute feels like an hour and my head is completely clear of anything besides the task at hand. Same goes for any intense physical activity, like hiking or weight lifting. Even with music in the background, I can completely focus on what I’m doing in the moment.


Reading is one of those activities that you get so busy focused on what you’re reading that you think of nothing but immersing yourself into the storyline. I love sitting down and diving into a book, something that I neglected for a long time. The power of words, knowledge, vocabulary, and writing is something I am learning to appreciate as I get older. The more I practice reading, the easier it is to get lost in the book I’m reading and with it brings an intense form of relaxation. It’s relaxing and productive, which makes it a win-win for us type A individuals.


If you don’t know by now, I’m convinced nature could literally be a medical prescription solely for its outstanding health benefits. I don’t care who you are, go in the woods and tell me you don’t feel happier and more alive. Enough said there.


Any artist or creative individual who has found a creative outlet already knows the power of this. Getting lost in a project and entering that “flow state” is unlike any other feeling. You practically become the project you’re working on. If that’s not the definition of meditation, then I don’t know what is.


They don’t call it “music therapy” for nothing! I believe the right music can entirely shift and shape our mood and behavior. Some people I know are not as heavily influenced by music, but all my fellow heavy music listeners will know what I mean when I say that music can transform your thoughts, mood, emotions, etc. It’s a powerful tool when used correctly. Putting your headphones on and clearing your head with music can be an incredible form of meditative practice. I’ve done it many times along with some visualization (my favorite form of meditation).

In conclusion…

The point here is that there are a handful of ways to experience the benefits of meditation and I’m not convinced that taking deep breathes with your eyes closed is the only solution.

As someone with anxiety, I can tell you that the practice of breathing is NOT something that will pull me out of a panic attack or even prevent one. Sometimes traditional meditation makes the onset even worse.

Finding my form of focus was important in managing my anxiety and I realized that putting pressure on myself to meditate “correctly” was just making my anxiety worse.

I started letting go of expectations and doing it in a way that helped me. Everyone is different and what works for you may not work for the next person. And some days a certain technique will work, but you’ll find that the next day it doesn’t.

If traditional meditation practices work for you, then great! Keep at it. But don’t give up if it’s difficult, just change your course of action. Hopefully, some of these can help you find what works for you.


hi there, i’m michelle

welcome to my little home on the internet! I'm a Registered Dietitian and am here to share with you evidenced based and realistic ways to better your health for the long haul. Here you'll learn ways to eat that are both practical and sustainable. Enjoy!

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