10 Active Meditation Techniques To Help You To Think Clearly, Make Better Decisions, and Be More Present
I define active meditation as anything that involves stimulating the brain and physical motion, whereas passive meditation is essentially what we all think of when meditation comes to mind: sitting with our eyes closed, focusing on our breath, slowing our thoughts, and so on.
1. Talk through what you are observing in the moment.
This one is my go-to technique, as it is remarkably effective. Simply look in front of you and begin to describe, in detail, what you see. The act of talking through what you see can reduce distractions and bring you into the moment. For instance, right now I'm looking at a small green cactus. It is in a white coffee cup with brown soil. The cactus has 14 'arms' and is about six inches tall. You can literally talk through anything that you are witnessing in the moment.
2. Practice kinhin.
Kinhin is walking meditation. Instead of sitting on a cushion or chair, take the meditation to your feet. There are multiple variations on how to do this, but typically it is done by walking in a circle with palms pressed together in front of you.
3. Take a walk while focusing on one thought.
Instead of going for a walk, looking at your surroundings, and letting your mind wander, go for a walk while focusing on one specific thought. This can be a problem that needs to be addressed, an emotion you are feeling, and so on. I find this technique beneficial when I am trying to make an important decision.
4. Count the number of seconds you breathe.
The act of counting how long you inhale, hold the inhale, exhale, and hold the exhale, can be hugely relaxing and can serve as a quick fix for anxiety. I typically start by breathing in for two seconds, holding it for two seconds, breathing out for two seconds, and holding it for two seconds. I repeat that process by adding one second each time until I get to ten.
5. Combine walking and counting: Count your steps and breath times in alignment.
Go for a walk and simultaneously count your steps and breaths while keeping them in alignment. In other words, each step represents one second, so you can go left foot, one breath second, right foot one breath second, and so on. A variation of this approach is to say to yourself, "left foot; right foot" as you walk. This technique can also be used while running.
6. Do Yoga.
One of the classic active meditations.
7. Do Tai Chi.
Another classic active meditation.
8. Scream as loud as you can for 10 seconds.
Stating the obvious, it may be best to do this one while alone and you're sure no one can hear you. I typically do it while driving alone. Believe it or not, it's hard to scream as loud as you can for a full ten seconds. However, once I'm done, a feeling of anxiety release always seems to follow.
9. Use crayons or markers to color on a color page.
The act of focusing on staying within the lines increases focus and is a great way to feel present. There are fancy ones out there, but doing this with a children's color-in-the-lines book works great.
10. Speak your thoughts and feelings out loud as they occur.
You can do this while speaking to yourself, which might be preferable if there are people around (lest they think you are losing your mind). For instance, right now I might say, "I am feeling relaxed. My brain feels less pressure now that I hit my tenth idea. I am a little amped up from the espresso I just drank." This act is a great way to feel present.