Next time you go about some familiar daily activities like taking a shower, take a moment to fully embody the experience while the warm water pours over your skin, and the heat of the water soothes your tight muscles, when time simply dissolves away. When this happens, you are in the “accidental meditation zone”.
This moment to moment feeling, where time lapses, when your thoughts simply dissolve into the void of time and space, can happen several times a day. Especially when walking or running, when you are staring out of a bus window at the passing scenery, or simply daydreaming about the meaning of life.
Most traditional meditation techniques teach you to observe the breath and to let go of time and the duties that lie ahead, while practicing stilling of the mind, (thought wave reduction). Thought waves have served human evolution, primarily teaching you to stay vigilant, just in case a big hairy, hungry creature with bad ass fangs wants to eat you.
But when you extend your exhalation, you trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, such that your autonomic nervous system then reduces your heart rate and muscle tone, effectively promoting a rest and calm state.
When the sympathetic nervous system bubbles away in a state of heightened arousal, you probably get all your work stuff done and push through your day under the influence of adrenalin and cortisol (arousal hormones) and perhaps a blast of caffeine to keep the fire burning. This arousal state can be great to get stuff done, however, it always helps to remember, we are called a human BEING and not a human DOING. How we can BE in life, rather than DO life, is the ultimate goal, when choosing the Wellness Warrior pathway for a healthy, happy and purposeful lifestyle.
Daydreaming and zoning out are great ways to let the mind can wander. Accidental meditation is an awesome practice that allows you to enjoy the present moment, without critiquing or judging yourself. While in this state, try to stay present to the breath, extending your exhalations, as well as well as getting curious about any physical sensations you may be experiencing throughout your body, underneath your feet, while tuning into the muscle tone of your face, observing any tightness in the jaw muscles or throughout the whole body etc.
Think of that typical dude state post orgasm, where your whole body awakens and then relaxes and softens.
Cultivating this accidental state allows you to slip into a quieter place where you can connect to a library of bodily sensations, as well as accessing your true gut feelings and intuitions, where, as dudes, we can truly tap into our deeper emotional and creative selves.
Creating more opportunities to enter into this accidental meditative zone is as easy as incorporating more gentle and repetitive physical activity like walking to or from work. Next time you are sitting still in the doctor’s surgery, or on a train, resist the urge to check your smart phone and instead just stare out the window or even close your eyes and tune into – “what is”. Who gives a shit if you close your eyes in a public space?
Cooking, cleaning (yes dudes), drawing and listening to a piece of gentle music can also be effective accidental meditations. The more mindful and embodied these meditations become, the less accidental they are. Next time you notice yourself getting stuck worrying about the future, or obsessing over mundane things, stop and recalibrate, and instead try one of the above meditations with a sense of embodied enquiry. You may even accidentally decide you like sitting still for 20 minutes.