In The Here and Now: How to Practice Mindfulness When You Don’t Like Meditation

March 14, 2024

There have already been many, many posts, articles, and blogs written about mindfulness, so I won’t keep you long. As some of you may already know, though it is perfectly okay if you don’t, mindfulness is the practice of being focused, non-judgmental, and in the present moment. Mindfulness can be practiced in meditation or in day-to-day life. 

Now, why am I telling you this when there have already been many posts written about mindfulness? I believe I have a unique perspective that may not be often discussed (though maybe it is, I’m not entirely sure). The perspective is simply this: I suck at mindfulness meditation. Not only do I suck at it, I also don’t like it. I could be wrong, but I feel as if people who don’t like mindfulness meditation don’t talk about not liking it enough. Which may seem like a strange thing to be concerned about. People who don’t like something generally enjoy talking about why they don’t like it.

However, with mindfulness meditation, there seems to be a general view that it is good for you and helpful in many aspects of life, so therefore we cannot speak badly of it. I want to bring to light the reality that mindfulness is a difficult, painful practice for some, and give my ideas of how I have managed to make it part of my life, despite my utter distaste for meditation.

I should first clarify that I do not dislike or disagree with the concept of mindfulness. What I dislike is the way people tend to teach the practice of mindfulness. For example, I can recall the first time I practiced mindfulness in one of my graduate classes. First of all, they handed out food that I could not eat (as it contained gluten) and asked us to eat it mindfully. There were many reasons for me to dislike this specific practice (as it contained gluten and food, two things of which I am not partial to), but beyond those things, I also disliked it because it felt so uncomfortable for me to sit and only be in the present with thoughts I often worked hard to ignore. I decided pretty quickly that mindfulness wasn’t for me and merely ‘pretended’ to take part in any future mindfulness meditation practices that I was asked to participate in.

After starting work in an intensive outpatient program which taught Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills, the main foundation of which is mindfulness, I had to face my dislike of mindfulness on a daily basis. However, instead of being the painful experience I had imagined, I was able to learn about mindfulness as a concept, rather than a meditation practice. I realized that I actually agreed with many of the concepts of mindfulness and learned that there were ways to integrate it into my life as a person who struggles with meditation. Here are some of the ideas that I came up with, and sometimes use myself:

Mindfulness During Prayer

If you are someone who prays daily, or even at all, it is ridiculously easy to throw in mindfulness during your prayer time. Prayer in itself is often very mindful and, therefore, a good match for being in the present moment. Instead of basic mindfulness meditation, try to work on being in the here-and-now, being non-judgemental, and focusing on one thing at a time while you pray.

Mindfulness Through Crafting

If you’ve ever experienced the serenity that comes with focusing on getting a brush stroke just right on a painting, counting stitches while knitting or crocheting, or smoothly drawing a line down a piece of paper, then you’ve experienced mindfulness. Being a crocheter myself, I found that mindfulness came easily to me when I focused on my craft, and I believe this is true of others as well. Therefore, crafting, including coloring, can be an easy and fun way to practice mindfulness.

Video Game Mindfulness

Playing games like Zelda: Breath of the Wild (BOTW) or Animal Crossing introduced me to mindfulness while playing video games. While BOTW does have combat elements, there are many moments in those games where the world is so beautiful, you have to stop and take a look around. Mindfulness while playing games that are beautiful to look at and experience comes fairly naturally to me. Some video games like Cat’s Cosmic Atlas, Little Mouse’s Encyclopedia, and Abzû even seem to encourage mindfulness. It can be such a pleasant way to experience it in my day-to-day life.

Eating Mindfully

Honestly, this type of mindfulness is not something that I personally practice because of reasons that are too extensive to get into here. However, for people who are foodies, I imagine that mindfulness while eating would come pretty naturally. Similar to appreciating a sunset or a beautiful landscape, being in the moment while eating a delicious meal would probably come easily. If you are as in love with food as most people, trying to eat a good meal mindfully may be a good way for you to practice mindfulness daily.

Playing with/Petting Pets Mindfully

Have you ever just experienced the soft feel of fur (or possibly the smooth feel of scales) running through your fingers and stopped to take in the feeling? Have you ever paused in your day because your pet needed attention and it felt easy and natural to take the time to sit with them and give them what they (and, frankly, you, as well) needed? That sensation is you experiencing mindfulness while petting or playing with your pet.

There you have it. I hope some, or all, of these ideas will come in handy if you are also a person who wants to practice mindfulness but dislikes meditation. And remember, if you’re struggling with mindfulness, you can now say that you know of a therapist who struggles with it too.

lindsay thompson counseling therapist lpc
Written By:
Lindsay Thompson, LPC-A, Licensed Professional Counselor-Associate, Supervised by Vanessa Jackson, MABC, LPC-S, EMDR, CSAT


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