Everyone is trying to get a piece of that Zen. You hear all time how beneficial meditation is for your health both mentally and physically. It’s all over the internet. The Beatles did it (with the help of some substances of course), I’m sure the president does it. There’s literally no down side to it, but why is it so hard to stick to? The thing is, it’s kind of like exercise. Once you start, you wonder why you don’t do it more often. Once you stop, you don’t even really notice it’s gone, until you start it up again. What if I told you there are some meditation short cuts. That’s right. Ways to keep your mind clear without spending 30 minutes all alone in complete silence. If classic meditation isn’t your thing, try these Zen hacks to get your self centered.
- Binaural Beats
Go on YouTube and look up binaural beats. It’s a sound frequency that enables alpha waves in your brain. When you are meditating your brain goes into an “alpha state”. It’s the state where everything is sunshine and lollipops. Turn on the track, put in some headphones and just lay down for a rest or even read a book or write. The beats are non-distracting and actually encourage creativity.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response. This is the reaction in your body when you are relaxed and in a meditative state. When you are totally relaxed you might feel tingles on your skin as your muscles release and circulation slows. If you search ASMR you will find tons of videos that put your body in this tingly, calm state. The videos range from tapping, whispering, scratching, all different kinds of sounds. When you listen to these sounds with headphones they actually trigger ASMR in your head. You will feel it on your scalp, in your ears and neck. It sounds a little weird, but it’s actually a great way to unwind.
What’s with all these weird acronyms I’ve never heard of? EFT stands for Emotional Freedom Technique aka “tapping”. It’s basically tapping on different meridian points on the body to induce relaxation. You want to use as much force as if you were playing a piano. On each point you will tap about twenty times give of take. Start on the “karate chop” point which is the fleshy part under your pinky finger, move to the inside of your eyebrows, outer corner of your eyes, the area under your eyes, your Cupid’s bow (right under your nose), right under your lips, your collar bone, under your arm and then end on the top of your head. It really is like a choreographed routine. Go through it over and over until you feel calm. It really does work. It’s like magic!
- Holy Basil
Holy basil is everyone’s favourite herb, or at least it should be. Holy basil lowers cortisol and induces a more focused, calm state. This spicy herb has been used throughout the centuries by monks and those studying enlightenment. It is most often consumed in tea form, although you can find it in a tincture or capsule. Try replacing your morning coffee with holy basil and see how you feel.
- Heart Rate Monitors
Your grandpa might carry one of these around, but not necessarily to reach enlightenment. The purpose of heart rate monitors is to show you how “not calm” you are even when you think you are “relaxed”. The Heart Math Institute have developed a heart rate monitor to measure the variability of your heart beats throughout the day. It will show you when you are stressed out and when you are at your most calm. Once you know what your average is, you can work to get your heart rate down. In this particular method, knowledge is power. You will be learning about the things in your life that really stress you out and will be taking your Zen into your own hands.
- Diaphragmatic Breathing
Diaphragmatic breathing is quite simply “the best way to breathe”. Us humans living in our go, go, go society, have forgotten how to breath properly. We tend to breathe from our chests and not from our belly. If you look at a newborn, they will be breathing from their belly, you will literally see their belly moving up and down. If you look at how you breathe I’m almost certain your chest will be the part that is moving. The good news is that you can train yourself to breathe the proper way. Raise the back of your tongue up and breathe in almost like you are snoring. Do this for the count of 7. Hold the breath for 4 seconds and then breathe out for 7 seconds as if you are making someone smell your breath. Make sure your chest and shoulders stay lowered and relaxed and all the air is going down to the belly. You should feel your diaphragm muscle being pushed down as well. When you breathe into your stomach like this, your rib cage actual gives you an inner massage. Isn’t that weird? This action just relaxes your whole body both inside and out.
You probably saw this coming. If weed is legal in your state, you’re in luck because it’s just about the best meditation hack out there. Eating weed as an edible is preferred because you aren’t breathing in smoke and it tends to give you a deeper chilled out state. Using marijuana can be great as a tool to measure how far you have to go on your meditation journey. What if you felt high all the time? It’s possible to achieve that state without drugs, but it’s always fun to experience that instant zen state without doing any work yourself. Alcohol can also give you a window into relaxation, but with more negative effects to your health. Alcohol just numbs the nerves so it’s kind of cheating a bit, plus it’s super toxic to the body.