You Don’t Have to Meditate to Relax

The definition of relaxed. Photo by Victoria Tronina on Unsplash

The world has become frantic; most of us are over-scheduled and many people worship daily - hourly - at the altar of busyness.

So how can you relax, slow down?

Maybe you should download latest mediation app? Maybe this time you'll actually use it; you'll commit to a 30-day daily mediation ritual and feel so much calmer and more centred, right?

Actually, scratch that; it's just something else to manage and yet another app on your already tech-bloated phone. (You know I'm right.)

Maybe you need to start journaling, or maybe you need a weekend retreat! That should help, right?

GOOD NEWS: Slowing down and learning to relax can be much simpler than all that.

Just do something familiar.


I read a quote recently that said "When the body is occupied with the familiar, the mind can relax."

And that was such a relief; meditation, journaling, workshops, etc. aren't necessary. All of these over-complicated attempts at helping us to relax aren't working.

I mean, if you currently have a meditation practice in place and it's totally working for you, that's awesome!

But if you're someone who's been intending to meditate / journal / sniff unicorn dust but hasn't yet begun, and for whom just the thought of trying to implement that kind of routine in the middle of your already frantic schedule causes more don't need to.

Happy Unicorn. Photo by James Lee on Unsplash

When you're in the middle of a stress cloud, go do something familiar, something which requires the involvement of your body, but where your mind can shut off because you've done this thing SO. MANY. TIMES.

For me, that means baking or exercise.


When my body is tired but my mind is frantic, focusing on baking helps me to calm down. I've been baking since I was a kid; getting in the kitchen to weigh, measure, and mix is therapeutic.

Anything that you can be still for but that requires the involvement of your hands (knitting, sewing, pottery, collage, lego, model planes) can be bring you peace.

As you focus intensely on the task at hand, your mind will go blank. Or at the very least, it won't be able to engage with the thoughts passing through your mind because your main point of focus is directed elsewhere.

Deep focus. Photo by Theme Photos on Unsplash


When my body is energized and my mind is frantic, exercise helps. Exercise helps because it forces me to breathe very deeply. After 45-60 minutes of exerting effort and taking deep breaths, I inevitably feel calmer.

In moment of stress, I think we all have a tendency to take quick, shallow breaths. But an intense workout leaves you no choice other than to breathe deeply. (I'm pretty sure that if you try to exercise while taking shallow breaths, you're likely to pass out due to lack of oxygen.)

That's the reason I exercise; not for the sake of having a smaller waistline (although I don't mind that), but because it helps me de-stress like nothing else does.

I exercise because I know if I don't, I'll have all of this pent-up energy and frustration. I'm an introvert and interacting with the world frays my nerves.

The reward for an intense workout is the deep sense of calm I feel when it's over and I step into the shower. As the water washes away the sweat, I feel renewed; I once again have a reserve of patience and goodwill for those I will interact with. (That's why I consider my workouts a service to society. ;) )

Deep breathing. Photo by Victor Freitas on Unsplash

"When the body is occupied with the familiar, the mind can relax."

What is that familiar thing for you? 

The thing where you need to move your body or use your hands in some active way, but where you don't have to think?

Painting, pottery, sewing, collage, DIY projects, washing your car, spelunking, hiking, what? There's something you do on a regular basis without needing to think about it that can be your go-to when you're feeling stressed out.

Always have the things on hand that help you with this de-stress activity; e.g. I always have ample baking ingredients in the house so that when the urge strikes (or I'm feeling frantic and need to slow down), I can disengage.

Sure meditation is great; but perhaps we need to expand our definitions of meditation from sitting quietly on a pillow listening to the sound our breath, to one that includes engaging in any activity which allows your mind to be clear and free of conscious thoughts so that you can be calm and present.

Because that's actually the definition of meditation. (Google it.)

During meditation, you focus on one thing. You get rid of the stream of thoughts that may be crowding your mind and causing stress.

According to Vedic science, the true purpose of meditation is to connect oneself to one's deep inner Self. Techniques which achieve that goal serve the true purpose of meditation.

Photo by Clem Onojeghuo on Unsplash

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