Ways to Meditate without Meditating

Ways to Meditate without Meditating January 11, 2023

Raise your hand if you’ve felt personally victimized by an inability to meditate. 

Image via Adobe Stock

For years I struggled with the concept of meditation. How could it be possible to silence these thoughts permeating my brain? My mind felt like it was a cerebral version of bumper cars. Every thought toppled into the next as they vied for my attention and their chance to be center stage. The idea of taming them felt like it would be an impossible feat. I had convinced myself that silencing the noise in our brains must be some exclusive right granted to only yogis and monks. 

That was until I reframed my opinion on what constitutes meditation. While sitting in silence and clearing your mind is an excellent way to meditate, the main goal of meditation is to bring us back into ourselves. It’s a subtle mindfulness that we achieve when we’re not giving into the cycle of thoughts in our minds; instead, we are focused on the task at hand. 

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the years, it’s that I am neither a purist nor a traditionalist. My brain doesn’t work the same way as others, and I am at a point in my life where I am at peace with this. I have been considered strange my entire life, both unwillingly and willingly, and that is not in jeopardy of changing. 

The only thing that has changed from childhood to adulthood is my acceptance. I owe a portion of this to parenting a child with autism and having to navigate the intricacies of that while coming to terms with the origins. Instead of fighting to fit my children into boxes, we treat the word “weird” as a badge of honor in my home. It’s not only okay to be different, but it’s encouraged. 

With this restructuring of the concept of meditation, I stopped faulting myself for my perceived mental shortcomings and started to understand myself more clearly. While I’ve mentioned in previous musings the benefits of guided meditation and binaural beats, which were game changers for me, this article will be focused on the activities that often get skipped over as acts of meditation in favor of traditionalism. 


Walking is widely considered a movement meditation.

A few years ago, I was obsessed with my exercise tracker. During these days, I used to clock in 20,000 steps a day. At this point in my life, I was working a 9 to 5 job and was a mother of 3, but I would wake up at 5:00 in the morning and walk 3 miles. For my lunch break, I’d head to the park to get in a couple more, and after dinner, I would walk a few more. This was excessive and led me to a necessary breakup with my fitness tracker, but that’s a story for another time. 

However, obsessive nature aside, I was at my best mentally. During these walks, I was focused on my strides and the world around me. While thoughts would occur, they weren’t all-consuming. Through walking, I could acknowledge a thought and allow it to pass me by without worry. I was in a state of meditation. 


Music feels like a spiritual experience because it is. At the very least, it can be. The way the sounds penetrate our minds and bodies is unparalleled. In fact, in some meditation classes, sound baths are offered for the ability of the sound waves to produce a meditative state. 

However, listening to music isn’t the only way to achieve this. Playing an instrument can have a meditative effect if it’s in your wheelhouse. This works by allowing you to concentrate largely on your notes and the positioning of your hands. As we progress and playing becomes a product of muscle memory, we further remain present in the current moment.


Along with listening to music, there is also the art of dance. When we dance, we tune into both the music and our bodies. We sync our movements with the rhythm and exist wholly within the present moment. Therefore, we are coming back into ourselves, which is the goal of meditation. 

The movement of dancing also has the additional benefit of releasing stored emotion. When using dance for meditation, it’s important to move freely, without restraint. We can feel our way through the movements, but the beauty of it is in existing in both the moment and the motion. 

Other Exercise

While walking and dancing are forms of exercise, this section is specific to other types of motion. With this in mind, exercise can be many things: walking, dancing, running, weightlifting, HIIT, and other forms of physical movement. 

I exercise for a myriad of reasons, and not a single one has to do with the number on the scale. The mental health benefits I feel after completing the work help me decompress and connect with my body. I was able to burn off the excess energy and anxiety I had accumulated throughout my day. 

Rather than focusing on what I will make for dinner or that awkward comment I made ten years ago, I focus on my physical body. I concentrate on accurately performing the motion to prevent injury, how the movement feels, and how capable I feel while doing so. Due to this, I have become fully present in the current moment. 

Knitting + Crocheting

Knitting and crocheting can be a form of mindfulness meditation—particularly if it’s a craft that you are already astute at it. That said, even beginners can find that the repetitive motion of crocheting or knitting produces a soothing effect. 

This method works by allowing us to focus solely on the task at hand. Not only does it assist us by keeping our hands busy, but the rhythmic motion induces tranquil states of mind that provide us the space to be fully present. While thoughts may occur during the process, we can stay mindful by returning to the craft at hand. 

While I am not handy with crochet hooks or knitting needles, my cousin, a fellow witch, had this to say: “Have you ever tried to talk to a knitter when they’re casting on? If you have, or if you have been the crafter in this scenario, you know the single-minded, almost militant determination engaged to block out any distractions. Any attempt at conversation is met with louder counting. No one safeguards their mindfulness like knitters and crocheters at their craft.”

Creating Art

With all the varying types, art can mean many different things to many people. We could be drawing, painting, or coloring in a coloring book. In this instance, the medium isn’t as important as the process of creating. Much like knitting and crocheting, an art form itself, art can be a mindfulness practice. 

The goal of using art for meditation is to get lost in a flow state. We needn’t be rigid about what we’re drawing or creating; instead, we should lean into where the art takes us. By tapping into this flow, we’re slowing down our racing thoughts and embodying the present moment. This coming back into the present allows us to achieve a meditative state without the need to be completely silent or still.  


Gardening is another personal favorite hobby of mine. I have even grown to enjoy battling it out with the Florida sun each year to see who emerges victorious. Nine times out of ten, the sun wins, but the remaining 10% of the time, I get to reap the fruits of my labors—or vegetables, if we’re getting into specifics.

Gardening has a multitude of benefits. One, the actual produce and herbs, but two, it often forces us outdoors. The benefits of a bit of sunshine can do wonders for our mood. However, perhaps most importantly, it allows us to get our hands dirty and to connect with the earth. Both planting and tending to our gardens can produce meditation-like states without having to meditate formally. 

Gardening allows you to achieve a peaceful state of mind, all while grounding and assisting you with getting your daily dose of Vitamin D. So, if you struggle with traditional meditation, this is an excellent practice to try. 

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