How to Meditate Without Using Technology [ 10 Best Meditation Tools]
The pace of life today is faster than it has ever been before. We are constantly bombarded with competing responsibilities, such as family, work, or school, that compete for our time and energy. It's enough to make anyone feel overwhelmed. Some of us are more prone to the stress and anxiety generated by the burdening responsibilities, especially if we're not taking sufficient time to recollect and relax.
Meditation is one of the most popular ways to relieve stress. It has been around for thousands of years, and it's still being discovered and perfected. It is hard not to give this calming practice a shot with so many reported benefits. One problem? It looks simple in theory but can actually be pretty challenging.
Whether trying to meditate for the first time or doing so regularly, some things help make the process easier for you - meditation tools! They help calm your mind, maintain focus on your breathing, and reduce physical discomforts (especially those caused by long sessions).
Here are 10 of my favourite tools for meditation that do not require any technology. Many of them are ancient, others are newer, but they all help you make your practice easier. Try them out to see which ones work best for you.
What is the meditation process, and what are the benefits
So what is the meditation process? The simplest definition is that it is the practice of focusing your attention on a particular thing or activity. This could be your breath, a mantra, or a specific body part. The goal is to stay focused on this one thing and clear your mind of all other thoughts.
The first written accounts of the practice are found in Indian Vedic scripts dating back to 1500 BCE, but researchers believe people began practising meditation around 5,000 years ago. Taoist Chinese and Buddhist meditation practices emerged from the Vedic writings 1,000 years later.
Although different religions mostly used meditation in spiritual settings, nowadays, it is being taught as an everyday tool throughout schools, classrooms and homes alike!
The practice has been adapted and practised worldwide, with different cultures putting their spin on it. There are now many meditation techniques such as mindfulness, journaling or mantra chanting, each of them practised for various reasons, including pain management, stress reduction and increasing self-awareness.
The benefits of meditation are vast and varied. They include reducing anxiety, improving concentration, helping with difficult emotions, and even as an alternative treatment for mood disorders, cancer or schizophrenia.
Meditation can be a great way to deal with difficult emotions. When we sit down and focus on how we are breathing, we can explore these emotions without judgement. We can see them for what they are - just feelings - and begin to accept them. This can be very helpful in reducing their power over us.
We can also use meditation to understand ourselves better. By becoming more aware of our thoughts and feelings, we can see patterns in our behaviour. We can also learn more about our motivations and intentions. This self-knowledge can be very valuable in making positive changes in our lives.
Meditation can be enjoyed by people of all ages and from all walks of life. It is a simple way to improve our mental and physical well-being. With regular practice, we can learn to control our thoughts and emotions and find inner peace.
What are meditation tools
Meditation tools are not modern inventions. They have been around for a long time and can be used by anyone from beginners to more experienced meditators. It does not mean that you need instruments to practice meditation, but they can make things a little easier.
Though some have evolved from their ancient form in terms of comfort, style and fashion over time, they remain relatively unchanged otherwise than to improve on performance with each passing generation.
If you were wondering which meditation tool is best for you, we've got you covered, whether you're just getting started with meditation or want a more in-depth experience. This article is not about technology. It is about how to meditate naturally with traditional meditation tools.
Here's our list of the best items you can use to jumpstart your meditation practice, make it more fun and enjoy the experience and benefits.
Best meditation tools
Malas have been traditionally used since the 8th century BC to aid with counting breaths and mantra recitations (Japa meditation). Most malas are made into long necklaces and have 108 beads. They often feature a 109th bead with a distinct size or colour (called a guru or meru bead), followed by a tassel or two small beads.
Traditionally, malas are hand-knotted, and the knots between the beads help keep count while chanting or mentally repeating a mantra. They are made from wood (sandalwood in India and bodhi in Nepal), seeds (rudraksha or lotus) or semi-precious stones (the most popular material used in the West). In fact, the Tibetan Buddhists monks were the first to put turquoise and red coral in mala beads, so they could tell where in their 108 count they were up to.
The oldest malas beads were made from rudraksha – the seeds of the evergreen Elaeocarpus ganitrus trees found in the Himalayas. Rudraksha malas are generally worn by priests and seen on statues and paintings of Buddhist and Hindu religions. They are predominantly used for Hindy malas, as rudraksha means "the tears of Shiva" in Sanskrit.
We particularly like the rudraksha malas because they are a renewable resource: the seeds are abundant and readily available in their native regions of South-East Asia. It takes just 5 years for a rudraksha tree to fruit, whereas a sandalwood tree will take 20 years to produce its aroma. Gemstones are the least sustainable material for malas, as they take thousands of years to form and a remarkable amount of resources to mine.
In my opinion, a mala is one of the best meditation tools you should have. It is inexpensive and portable. When you're feeling stressed or feel the need to reconnect with your breath, touch your mala as a reminder to focus on the present moment. Wearing your mala necklace or bracelet can be an easy way to stay mindful during any time of day.
2. Tibetan singing bowls
Singing bowls have been used for thousands of years as an instrument that produces different sounds and tones, depending on their size and material. Striking or swirling the perimeter using a wooden mallet makes beautiful sounds that are both meditative and relaxing.
Himalayan singing bowls (also called Tibetan bowls) are made from metal (typically from a bronze alloy) and are traditionally hammered by hand. They have been used by Buddhist monks in their meditation practice due to the grounding and clearing energy of the sound.
There are also singing balls made from crystal that are used in spiritual centres and yoga studios.
These are one of the best Buddhist meditation tools to buy because of the powerful effect of the sounds. While the research is limited, it does show that certain tones and frequencies have calming effects on your body and mind. According to a 2014 study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion, Tibetan singing bowls can lower blood pressure and have positive mental health outcomes.
Another 2016 study published in the Journal of Evidence-Based Integrative Medicine found that Tibetan singing bowl meditation is a low tech, easy to implement technique for reducing feelings of fatigue, anger, depression and anxiety. It may be particularly useful for individuals who have not previously practised this type of meditation.
I hope I convinced you to try incorporating sound into your meditation practise with a Tibetan singing bowl.
3. Meditation rings
Interactive jewellery has been around for centuries and is richer in history than you might think. These rings are based on Tibetan prayer wheels and feature moving parts that allow the wearer to experience their tranquil effect right from their fingertips! The most common prayer wheel is displayed at temples in the Buddhist tradition, while smaller versions may be found inside homes.
The wheels found in the Buddhist temples are large, made of metal or wood and beautifully embellished with mantras. It is believed that turning the wheels (also called Mani-wheels) and repeating the mantra "Om Mani Padme Hum" will greatly benefit oneself and others: moving closer to enlightenment while obtaining peace of mind and good karma. Another belief is that spinning the prayer wheels while praying will amplify the resonance of your prayers.
Modern meditation rings are based on the idea that you can obtain the same benefits while on the go without carrying a prayer wheel with you. Usually, rings that spin, also known as worry rings, are banded rings with elements that can be fidgeted with, such as two bands on top of each. The inside ring stays on your finger while the outside one spins freely.
Another type of meditation ring is the one with a fixed thin band and a rotatable top, such as a windmill, a sun or even a mini prayer wheel.
These rings can be made of silver, stainless steel or brass, and some of them are embellished with semi-precious stones.They make an excellent gift for beginners and advanced meditators alike.
This is my favourite stress relief tool: portable, fashionable and affordable. It reminds me to relax, stay calm and mindful, and maintain my “zen” when life gets challenging.
My Anxiety Ring carries a wide range of meditation rings with bands and spinning tops. Some are even adjustable, so you don't have to worry about getting the size right. You'll find something for every taste and budget.
How to use rings for meditation
There is no right answer if you were wondering what finger to wear the spinning ring on. Simply choose the type of ring that resonates with you and put it on your finger. It can be the middle finger, the index one or even the thumb. It depends on what works for you and also on the type of the ring: the band spinner rings can be worn on any finger, but you may want to wear a worry ring with a rotatable top on the index or middle finger.
You can use the ring to track your breath or mantra during meditation. Some people also like to use meditation rings to stay calm, present and mindful during their day-to-day lives. It also helps if you associate the ring's spinning with a mantra or a positive affirmation such as "I am calm and relaxed" or "with each spin, my anxiety goes away".
Mood rings can help enhance your meditation practice by allowing you to connect better with your emotions. When you're wearing a mood ring, you can watch the colors change as your mood shifts. This can help you to become more aware of how you're feeling and give you insights into which emotions are dominant when you’re commencing your meditation, so you can work to manage them more effectively.
Portable, discreet and elegant fidget rings are one of the best best aids to help your brain maintaining a mindful, zen-like attitude.
4. Meditation cushion
Meditation seats are furniture specifically designed for comfortable sitting during meditation. They are usually made from various materials, such as cotton, wool, or polyester, filled with beans, rice, or buckwheat.
Both beginners and long-term practitioners experience discomfort while sitting in one position for long periods.
Many beginners make the mistake of using yoga mats instead of cushions. But yoga mats aren’t designed to be sat on for more than 30 minutes.
Meditation seats are a great way to overcome the challenges of sitting in one position. They promote good posture and proper alignment, which helps reduce any strain on your body while you meditate!
There are several types of meditation seats: cushions, zabutons, zafus, folded blankets, bolsters and even wooden benches. Zafu is the traditional meditation cushion used in Zen monasteries. It helps maintain proper posture where only your coccyx region is elevated.
My favourite tool in this category is the meditation cushion. It can be used either with a chair or as a standalone product on the floor. The best part is that you can take it with you whenever you travel or go to a retreat.
When purchasing a meditation cushion, you should be looking for one that is crescent-moon-shaped and ideally has an organic cotton cover.
Using a meditation cushion is the perfect way to limit physical discomfort during your meditation practice and protect your knees while helping you to keep your brain focused and your body comfortable when meditating.
5. Eye pillow
Eye pillows are small cushions specifically designed to be placed over the eyes during meditation to block the light. Some are even wearable – equipped with a strap.
Eye pillows have cotton, satin or fleece cover and are usually filled with a variety of different materials, such as lavender, chamomile, rice, flaxseed, buckwheat, or spelt wheat. Many of them are microwave- and freezer-friendly.
An eye cushion can be a lovely addition to your meditation routine. It will block out ambient light while you meditate and provide gentle pressure that will help you de-stress and unwind.
6. Essential oil diffusers
You may be familiar with essential oils if you’ve ever gone to a meditation or yoga class.
Essential oil diffusers are a type of device that is used to disperse essential oils into the air. They are made from a variety of different materials, such as plastic or glass, and can be used to diffuse essential oils in a variety of different ways, such as through heat or ultrasonic waves.
Several different benefits have been associated with using essential oils while meditating. For example, a 2018 studyfound that lavender oil effectively reduces anxiety and improves sleep quality. Another study published in the journal Frontiers in Psychology found that lemon balm oil effectively reduces stress and improves cognitive performance.
Essential oils are preferred by some over incense or candles because there is no smoky scent.
How to meditate with essential oils
There are a few different ways to use essential oil diffusers for meditation. The most popular method is to simply add a few drops of your favourite essential oil to the diffuser and let it disperse into the air. You can also apply a few drops of essential oil to your meditation cushion or eye pillow.
Incorporating essential oils in your meditation may make it easier to get into that deep state of relaxation and reduce self-talk and negative thoughts.The scent can also help your brain to wind down and induces sleep.
There are so many essential oils out there for you to experiment with and find your favourite. Some may be more relaxing, while others might be uplifting. All these scents will work perfectly in supporting you while meditating, so choose the ones you feel most drawn to.
The simplest way to focus your mind on meditation involves the senses. I enhance my meditations by minimizing distraction by lighting candles or incense wherever I meditate. Light incense to alert the brain of the time for relaxation. Smells are powerful and can aid in your journey.
Incense is a meditation tool found throughout worship centres, in homes and on personal altars. In many cultures around the world, it has been used as an offering to religious figures and to clear out negative energy.
Incense is made of different materials, including herbs, spices, and resins. It comes in various scents and forms, such as sticks, clumps and cones.
There are many ways to use incense when you meditate. One of the most popular methods is to light the incense and let it burn for a few minutes before beginning your practice. You can also hold the incense and let the smoke waft over your body.
An important aspect to consider when purchasing incense is the excellence of the product. It would be best to look for a high-quality organic or all-natural brand that uses natural resin.
8. Chimes or bells
Chimes and bells are other Tibetan spiritual items that you can use when you meditate. They come in various shapes and sizes and can be made from various materials, such as metal, bamboo or glass.
Chimes and bells are often used to signal the beginning and end of a meditation session. The sounds can also bring your attention back to the here and now if you find your mind wandering.
The sound of chimes and bells can have a calming and relaxing effect on the mind, body and spirit. It can also help create feelings of joy, happiness and peace.
Mandala is a Sanskrit word that means "circle" and a symbol of the universe in its ideal form. Its creation signifies how we can transform this world full of suffering into one filled with joy.
A mandala can be any shape, but it is most often in the form of a circle. It can be created with pencil and paper, coloured sand, stones, or crystals.
Creating a sand mandala is a time-honoured tradition of Buddhist monks. It is a way to generate compassion and blessings for all beings. The process of creating a sand mandala is a form of meditation, and it takes great concentration and focus.
The monks start by drawing the outline of the mandala in pencil. They then use a metal funnel to pour coloured sand into small containers. The monks use fine brushes to painstakingly place the sand on the mandala, one grain at a time.
The process of creating a sand mandala can take days or even weeks to complete. Once it is finished, the mandala is viewed as a work of art. It is then dismantled, and the sand is returned to its natural state.
Creating and destroying a mandala is a metaphor for the impermanence of life. It is a reminder that everything changes and nothing lasts forever.
The process of creating a mandala can be meditative in and of itself. One popular method is to gaze at the mandala once completed while focusing on breating. It will help to still the mind and promote feelings of calmness and peace. You can also trace the mandala with your finger or a pencil or colour it if you wish.
Mandalas can also be used to connect with your intuition and access your creativity.
10. Zen gardens
Zen gardens are a type of garden that originated in Japan. They are typically small and feature a carefully arranged collection of rocks, plants and sand.
The primary purpose of a zen garden is to provide a space for meditation and contemplation. The plants in the garden are thought to represent different aspects of nature. The rocks represent mountains, while the sand represents the ocean.
Zen gardens can be created indoors or outdoors. Don't worry if you don't have a lot of space. Mini zen gardens can be kept on trays or in pots and used as tools for meditation.
Creating, caring for and observing a zen garden are all meditative practices. The act of raking the sand or trimming the plants can help to calm and focus the mind.
The best meditation tool
I hope you found our list of the best meditation tools helpful, and you'll be motivated to stick with your meditations and stay mindful! Perhaps I’ve even inspired you to set up a sanctuary in your home where you can indulge in the benefits of meditation with the help of these zen-inducing items that can deepen your practice.