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A sticker with the words "meditation games" that brings enjoyment.

Meditation That You’ll Actually Enjoy

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Meditation That You’ll Actually Enjoy

We previously wrote about…

No-Frills, Evidence-Based Mindfulness

👆this is a great primer, by the way, for the science and simplicity of mindfulness, along with the simplest mindfulness meditation to get you going.

Today, we’re going to have some fun with meditation.

First: The Problem

Once the usefulness and health benefits of meditation have been established, often people want to meditate, but complain they don’t have the time.

But that’s not the real reason, though, is it?

Let’s face it, a basic meditation can give benefits within two minutes. Or within two breaths, for that matter. So, it’s not really for a lack of time.

The real reason is because it doesn’t feel productive, and it’s not fun. For us to feel motivated to do a thing, usually we need at least one or the other. And even if we know it really is productive, it not feeling that way will hobble us.

So instead, let us make things a little more fun, with…

Meditation games!

As it turns out, there are good kinds of meditation with which one can have a little fun.

Catch the next thought

A common feature of many meditative practices is the experience of having fewer, or ideally no, thoughts.

But it’s hard to enact a negative, and thoughts keep coming.

So instead, make yourself comfortable, settle in, and lie in wait for thoughts. When one comes along, pounce on it in your mind. And then release it, and wait for the next.

At first, your thoughts may be coming thick and fast, but soon, you’ll find the pauses between them lengthening, and you have moments of contented not-knowing of what the next thought will be before it comes along.

This state of relaxed, ready alertness, calm and receptive, is exactly what we’re hoping to find here. But don’t worry about that while you’re busy lying in wait for the next wild thought to come along 😉

Counting breaths

Many meditative practices involve focus on one’s breath. But it’s easy for attention to wander!

This game is a simple one. Count your breaths, not trying to change your rate of breathing at all, just letting it be, and see how high you can get before you lose count.

Breathing in and out, once, counts as one breath, by the way.

You may find that your rate of breathing naturally slows while you’re doing this. That’s fine; let it. It’ll add to the challenge of the game, because before long there will be lengthy pauses between each number.

If you lose count, just start again, and see if you can beat your high score.

This meditation game is an excellent exercise to build for sustained focus, while also improving the quality of breathing (as a side-effect of merely paying attention to it).

Hot spot, cold spot

The above two meditation games were drawn from Japanese and Chinese meditative practices, zen and qigong respectively; this one’s from an Indian meditative practice, yoga nidra. But for now, just approach it with a sense of playful curiosity, for best results.

Make yourself comfortable, lying on your back, arms by your sides.

Take a moment first to pay attention to each part of your body from head to toe, and release any tension that you may be holding along the way.

First part: mentally scan your body for where it feels warmest, or most active, or most wanting of attention (for example if there is pain, or an itch, or some other sensation); that’s your “hot spot” for the moment.

Second part: mentally scan your body for where it feels coolest, or most inert, or almost like it’s not a part of your body at all; that’s your “cold spot” for the moment.

Now, see if you can flip them. Whether you can or can’t, notice if your “hot spot” or “cold spot” moves, or if you can move them consciously.

This meditation game is a great exercise to strengthen interoception and somatic awareness in general—essential for being able to “listen to your body”!

Closing thoughts

All three practices above have very serious reasons and great benefits, but make sure you don’t skip enjoyment of the fun aspects!

Being “young at heart” is, in part, to do with the ability to enjoy—literally, to take joy in—the little things in life.

With that in mind, all we have left to say here is…

Enjoy!

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