Alternative Meditation Techniques That You Should Explore

Alternative Meditation Techniques That You Should Explore

Stereotypes about meditation techniques tend to lean into either the “chanting monk” image or the “sitting in silence” version. And, truth be told, both of those stereotypes take direct inspiration from very real and widely practiced forms. But meditation needn’t be either of those things. There are many meditative techniques that eschew “tradition” in favor of achieving a mindful result, and several are based in settings/activities that have long been recognized for their power to help lift our spirits or clear our minds when we’re troubled. Today, we’ll take a look at two such techniques—laughter meditation and driving meditation.

Laughter Meditation

Laughter (or laughing) meditation is an expressive technique that involves laughing and then reflecting in equal measure. You might laugh for five minutes and then reflect for five minutes, laugh for 10 minutes and reflect for 10 minutes, and so on. The idea is that you should experience some period of unmitigated, unsuppressed joy and then take an equal amount of time to be mindful. And that reflective time absolutely doesn’t need to be silent or serious—you should make no attempt to suppress your laughter or otherwise be quiet during your reflective time. As long as you’re able to focus on whatever you’ve chosen to ponder, you’re succeeding.

One of the most challenging parts of laughter meditation can be getting the process started. For some people, speaking gibberish out loud or waving their arms around nonsensically is enough to get the proverbial ball rolling. Other folks, especially those who have trained themselves to suppress their own feelings of joy for the sake of “decorum”, will need a more pointed cue to allow themselves to really indulge in laughter—a video or audio recording of standup comedy, a gag or blooper reel from a movie or television show, etc. Whatever it takes to get you laughing works. There are no wrong answers on that one.

Driving Meditation

Driving meditation is exactly as the name describes it—going for a solitary drive as a pathway to mindfulness. Odds are good that you know (or knew) someone who enjoys driving to “clear their head” or “help them think clearly”; these are folks who practice driving meditation without really realizing it. The basic idea is taking a relaxed, solitary drive on familiar roads gives you time to be alone with your thoughts because you don’t need to completely engage your brain with the task of driving. You must stay alert of your surroundings and mindful of other vehicles and pedestrians, of course, but by sticking to familiar roads and routes you don’t need to devote much brainpower to navigation or what you’ll do when you reach your destination.

This sort of meditation tends to come fairly easily to most people, if only because many of us do it already. Have you ever been on a long drive and let your mind wander to your own plans or solving personal problems? Do you “mentally prepare” yourself for work during your morning commute? These are, for all intents and purposes, instances of being mindful while driving. Individuals who find it difficult to engage with other meditative techniques might see this as a more welcoming window into the world of mindful practice. Even experienced meditators might find the more casual or familiar atmosphere of driving meditation inviting.

These are just two of the alternative meditations that have found wide acceptance in the community of mindfulness. Other varieties of expressive meditation that focus on other emotions or activities are common, as are techniques that involve performing a rote or “disengaged” activity like driving meditation. Finding what works best for you may take some time and investigation, but the end results are worth the investment.