Ready to get Zen? Meditation can do way more than people think — and it’s not just for hippies. Practicing meditation regularly has legitimate health advantages, especially for the brain. Studies suggest meditation can do it all: reduce anxiety and sensitivity to pain, make us smarter, ward off sickness, and prevent stress  . If carving out an hour to sit on a cushion doesn’t float your boat, there are many unexpected ways to meditate every day. Get the benefits of meditation by trying out an alternative style from the list below.
Zen Zone — Your Action Plan
Standing Meditation: Standing instead of sitting to meditate canrelieve lower back pain and promote a greater sense of internal stability. As with any form of meditation, begin with a short period of time — start with five minutes only. Stand in a comfortable, straight posture with the feet pointing straight forward, about shoulder width apart. After settling into the position, do a quick full-body “scan,” releasing tension and bringing awareness to every part of the body.
Walking Meditation: In walking meditation, called kinhin in the Zen tradition, practitioners move slowly and continuously while staying aware of the body and mind. For this form of meditation, use good posture (just like seated meditation), take deep breaths, and experience the motions of the body. The walking movement should be continuous, so pick a safe place with space to roam around, like a large park or field.
Tai Chi: This ancient wellness practice, which means “Grand Ultimate” in Chinese, is all about aligning energy in the body as well as the mind. In traditional Chinese medicine, illness or pain happens when the life force, chi, is disrupted . The contemplative practice of tai chi — which looks like slow-motion dancing — is supposed to realign the body’s chi. This form of moving meditation may increase memory and brain size , as well as alleviate symptoms of fibromyalgia. Find a local class here.
Qigong: Like Tai Chi, Qigong is a form of “moving meditation” that uses rhythmic physical movements to focus and center the mind. Qigong is also used to regulate, maintain, and heal the body’s chi or energy force. The practice works as a combination of meditation and low-impact exercise and can reduce stress and anxiety, improve blood flow, and increase energy. Studies have shown that qigong meditation is an effective therapy for those overcoming substance abuse, especially for women . Because it combines mindful meditation with body movements, qigong can be used as a mental, physical, or spiritual exercise.
Integrated Amrita Meditation Technique: Mata Amritanandamayi, an Indian humanitarian and spiritual leader known as “Amma” (mother) or “The Hugging Saint,” invented this practice to help people redirect energyin a positive way. Each session of IAM takes 20 to 30 minutes and includes postures, pranayama breathing, and meditation. Participants spend the first eight or so minutes doing yoga, followed by deep breathing and meditation. According to one study, the practice actually lowers the levels of stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline in the body. Find a practice in your area here.
Dance Meditation: Get ready to boogie — meditation just got a soundtrack! Most people, at one time or another, have put on some tunes and cut the rug to chill out after a tough day. Dance or kundalini meditation takes that release one step farther by asking participants to let go of the ego and surrender to the rhythms and ecstasies of movement. Some classes encourage yelling, jumping, and even hooting like an owl! Dance meditation may not be for the faint of heart — or arm or leg — but it can be a great way to release tension and get in touch with our instincts.
Daily Life Practice Meditation: Does high-energy dance sound a bit too wacky? Bring meditation back to a more reasonable pace with daily life practice meditation, which is also called Samu work meditation in the Buddhist Zen tradition. In this style of meditation, practitioners slow down daily activities to half-speed and use the extra time to be mindful and focus on thoughts. There’s no need to sign up for a class when it’s possible to meditate while washing dishes, taking a shower, walking down the subway steps…
Hand Movement Meditation: For many people, the toughest part of meditation is sitting without moving for an extended period of time. It’s sohard to resist the urge to pick at an itchy spot because scratching activates areas of the brain that control pain and compulsive behavior. What’s the best solution to this conundrum? Try hand movement meditation, in which participants focus on moving the hands slowly and mindfully.
Gazing Meditation: If staring into space or spacing out is your jam, try Trataka or fixed-gazing meditation. This unusual style of meditation encourages participants to focus inward by staring at a fixed object while sitting or standing. Trataka has many alleged benefits, from physical plusses like eye health and headache relief to mental advantages such as lower stress levels and better focus. If outdoors, fix the gaze on a natural object like a stone, tree, or even the moon (just avoid staring at the sun). Indoors, try looking at the center of a lit candle or an interactive computer graphic. Trataka can be pretty intense, so start very slowly — stare for just 15 to 20 seconds, with plenty of rest time. Eventually work up to 10 or 15 minutes.
Breathing Meditation: This technique takes those pre-yoga class “Oms” to the next level. Also called yogic breathing or Pranayama, this meditation style is all about controlling the inhales and exhales. Greatist Expert Dr. Jeffrey Rubin explains, “Longer exhales tend to be calming, while longer inhales are energizing. For meditative purposes either the ratio of exhale to inhale is even or the exhale is longer than the inhale for a calming effect.” This type of meditation can be done anywhere, anytime (except underwater, for obvious reasons).
Meditation can mean much more than sitting on a pillow for an hour. Try one of these alternative meditation styles to find the best fit and incorporate mindfulness into any daily routine.
There is a great deal of evidence–some reliable, some not so reliable–that the mind is much more than merely the central processor for sensory information.
We know that sensory processes are all local, i.e., they depend on local transmission of information. However, extrasensory processes may be non-local, i.e., they may depend on non-local correlations between two minds or between a mind and an event that is remote, either spatially or temporally (see Section 4.3). Nevertheless, whether the extrasensory processes are local or non-local, we shall refer to all of them as non-local mind.
Russell Targ and Jane Katra in their 1998 book, Miracles of Mind, list a few of the extrasensory abilities that have been demonstrated:
- Telepathy: Direct mental communication between one mind and another.
- Remote viewing: Obtaining a mental image of a remote target object at which an accomplice is located. This is different from telepathy because the image often contains details not noticed by the accomplice.
- Clairvoyance: Obtaining a mental image of a remote target without the aid of an accomplice.
- Precognition: There are several types of precognition. A prophecy is a dream or vision of a future event when there is no possibility of taking any action that could change the future. Examples are recording a prophecy and revealing it only after the event has occurred, or prophesying in a vague, nonspecific way. If the precognition is specific enough to allow an action to be taken to avert a future event, then it is called a forecast, premonition, or presentiment (pre-sentiment). Example: a dream of an airplane crash that allows a person to avoid that flight.
- Distant hypnosis: Inducing hypnosis of a person at a distance.
- Psychic healing: A type of remote viewing and healing in which the healer actively transposes intuitive impressions into thoughts and specific healing actions in a patient’s body to remedy a perceived problem.
- Spiritual healing: Remote healing in which the healer is in a receptive, aware, nonjudgmental state which allows his or her consciousness to be used as a conduit for healing by nonlocal, universal mind.
- Energy healing: Healing in which the healer directs his or her attention to the patient and concentrates on replenishing or manipulating the patient’s vital energy flow. Examples are reike, therapeutic touch, laying on of hands, pranic healing, and Qi Gong.
- Intuition: Direct, nonanalytical awareness that can come from nonlocal mind, internal subconscious processes, psychic sources such as mind-to-mind connections, or direct clairvoyant perception of the outside world.
- The existence of extraordinary abilities attained through the practice of yoga is well established and documented in the literature of yoga,
- Knowledge of past and future; understanding of the sounds made by all creatures; knowledge of past lives; knowing what others are thinking; prior knowledge of one’s death; the attainment of various kinds of strength; perception of the small, the concealed, and the distant; knowledge of other inhabited regions; knowing about the stars and their motions; knowledge of the interior of the body; control of hunger and thirst; steadiness; seeing the adepts in one’s own interior light; intuition; understanding of the mind; entering the bodies of others; lightness and levitation; brightness; control of material elements; control of the senses; perfection of the body; quickness of the body.
The effects of nonlocal mind are clearly experienced when people are meditating in a group. (Because of the interactions between the minds of pairs of meditators, the effects of nonlocal mind presumably increase with the square of the number of meditators.)
The Transcendental Meditation (TM) organization has conducted several demonstration projects to show the effects on the surrounding community of a large number of people meditating in a group. This project occurred in Washington, D.C. between June 7 and July 30, 1993 and involved up to 4000 people meditating in a group. An independent group of scientists approved the research protocol and analyzed statistically the results.