Except, according to real-life meditation gurus, it's not. "People mostly think meditation has to be boring and inaccessible," says Micah Mortali, Director of the Schools of Yoga and Ayurveda at the Kripalu Center of Yoga and Health. "The truth is, when you practice meditation, what you are really doing is practicing the art of concentration."
And we can all stand to use more of that. Meditation has been shown to have a slew of practical benefits, like helping us focus better and become smarter decision makers. It can also help us reduce stress, be more present in our interactions (aka, not check out when our husbands and bosses are talking) and straight up enjoy our lives more. Sounds pretty great, no?
And we swear -- meditation doesn't have to be "hard." According to experts, you can start with just five minutes a day. "The cool thing is that you can find things you love and use them as tools to meditate," says Mortali. "If you love to hike in the woods, you can practice meditating while you are hiking. If you love to drink good coffee, you can meditate on coffee."
In other words, "You don't have to be a Buddhist monk who has taken a vow of silence to meditate 'well' or 'right,'" says clinical therapist Ruth Spalding, LMSW.
Let us prove it with this list of simple meditation hacks. These nontraditional tricks prove there's still hope for those of us who'll never reach enlightenment (no matter how many times we reincarnate).
Meditation Tip No. 1: Break Out Your Crayolas
How it works: Believe it or not, adult coloring books are some of the best-selling books in America right now (above Stephen King's latest release and George Bush's biography). Most of us haven't picked up a crayon since kindergarten, but research shows that the practice is actually highly therapeutic for adults.
As it turns out, grownups have been coloring in the name of stress relief for decades. Renowned psychologist Carl Jung used encourage his patients to color in mandalas as a way of releasing their subconscious.
Coloring, much like more traditional forms of meditation, induces relaxation by transferring focus away from outside stresses and onto something simpler and more specific. It also evokes childhood nostalgia, which has a further calming effect.
To get your hands on Amazon's No. 1 best-selling adult coloring book, click here.
Meditation Tip No. 2: Chill With a Puppy (or a Guppy)
How it works: Simply sitting with a cat or dog and petting it for a few minutes can be extremely meditative, says wellness and lifestyle expert Denise Baron. The act of stroking an animal causes our bodies to release endorphins, stimulating an automatic relaxation response and reducing stress.
If you don't have a access to a four-legged friend, try finding one with fins. Studies show that watching a fish swim for five minutes a day drops the body's cortisol levels (aka, your stress hormones) and boosts serotonin, a happiness-inducing chemical.
Meditation Tip No. 3: Find an App for That
How it works: We do everything else on our phones, so why not open the third eye with it, too? "Apps can make meditation fun, convenient and accessible," says Craig Perkins, master yogi and founder of the Yandara Yoga Institute.
We are particular fans of Headspace (and so is Emma Watson, if that's any more convincing). The app offers guided meditations for beginners in 10 minute sessions, once a day for 10 days. Headspace co-founder Andy Puddicombe leads the meditations, and his (British) voice is relaxed and personable -- not at all hippie dippie. Plus, the animated interface is playful and fun to use.
Meditation Tip No. 4: Get Out of the House
How it works: Meditation doesn't have to mean sitting still with your eyes closed -- in fact, focusing your attention on the outside world can help quiet the world within.
"With walking meditation the idea is to walk slowly and mindfully, while maintaining a soft and conscious breath," Mortali explains. "Every footstep is conscious and you remain mindful of the environment around you -- the wind, the sound of the leaves blowing, the cars going by." Every few minutes you bring your attention back to your footsteps. Simple.
You don't have to go out of your way on an ambitious nature walk, either. "Choose a path that you walk routinely, such as from your front door to your car," suggests mindfulness meditation expert Charles Francis, author of "Mindfulness Meditation Made Simple." You can either focus your attention on each footstep, or your entire body as you walk, he says. This helps slow down the mind (without grossly inconveniencing your daily life).