Meditation provides an impressive array of wellness benefits. In fact, it reduces stress, improves sleep, increases feelings of well-being, and even lowers blood pressure. (1) Its power comes from its effect on the brain and how it creates a deeper connection between mind and body.

The popular vision of meditation is a person sitting on a meditation cushion in a state of Zen.

This method works for many people. With practice and persistence, it can get easier to sit quietly and invite a relaxed state of mind.

For other people, meditation is challenging, or their attempts to get started have ended in frustration. It’s not uncommon to hear someone say, “I tried to meditate, but it didn’t work for me.”

Thankfully, the traditional form of meditation as a seated practice is not the only way to access the power of the mind/body connection. So, let’s explore some of the alternatives to meditation.

Walking in Nature

Taking a walk in a natural environment decreases the stress hormone cortisol and improves mood. (2) Depending on the intention we bring to the movement, it can become a meditation.

Instead of letting the mind wander or mull over whatever thoughts draw our attention, we can focus on the feel of our feet on the earth and the movement of the breath in the body. If we choose to walk mindfully, we tap into the meditative benefits of walking in nature.

As Thich Nhat Hanh said, “It is wonderful enough just to be alive, to breathe in, and to make one step. We have arrived at where real life is available—the present moment. If we breathe and walk in this way, we become as solid as a mountain. “ (3)

Alternatives to meditation: Take a walk in nature

Listening to Music

Getting lost in beautiful music or feeling that stirring in our soul from our favorite song are examples of how profoundly music can impact us. Focusing on the sound and rhythm allows the mind to relax and let go of overthinking.

Like meditation, listening to good music can decrease stress, improve mood and increase our ability to regulate our emotions. (4) (5) (6) This makes music another one of the great alternatives to meditation.

Listening to music is a great way to rejuvenate the soul

Yoga or Tai Chi

Yoga and tai chi have both been described as meditation in motion. Being fully engaged in the physical movement relaxes the mind and improves our sense of well-being. (7) As a result, both are great alternatives to meditation.

For people who struggle with sitting still for traditional meditation, choosing one of these moving forms of meditation can provide similar benefits and potentially be a gateway to a seated practice.

Yoga and tai chi are great alternatives to meditation

Find Your Mind/Body Practice

We all need the benefits of greater connection with our mind, body, and spirit. Meditation has so much to offer in that regard, but it is not the only way.

There are many activities to choose from that can bring us peace and a greater connection with ourselves. The specifics of how we tend to our spiritual selves are less important than the regular cultivation of the practice.