For those of us whose thoughts tend to wander when seated for a long period of time, moving meditation can be a gamechanger. Given the level of stimulation we experience on a day-to-day basis, the idea of sitting still and in silence might be overwhelming. Many of us even feel resistance or aversion to the practice.
If you, like so many others, suffer from a restless mind while meditating, embrace the idea that you don’t need to sit in stillness to practice mindfulness. You can overcome the challenge of an overactive mind and short attention span by 1) Becoming aware of your thoughts, 2) Tuning into the present moment, and 3) embracing forms of moving meditation.
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Becoming Aware of Thoughts
When your physical body is still, your mind might immediately become more active. You might initially become more aware of your thoughts instead of less so.
Some thoughts are fleeting and some thoughts are a familiar, old storyline we hold in our mind. The more aware you become of your thoughts, the more you can begin to see your thoughts clearly.
Meditation is a practice of awareness. Cultivating this awareness creates more space between thoughts and over time can increase the sense of calm felt during a meditation. Meditation is a cumulative practice, so the benefits are felt over time, even when you don’t necessarily feel like you are ‘doing it right’.
By practicing awareness of the body and mind, you become more aware of the subtleties of your existence and you become more attuned to the present moment as you experience it. Meditation is the act of tuning in to the present moment.
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If meditating is tuning into your mind and body, the opposite of meditation is tuning out. Throughout our lives and even throughout the course of a day, we will all move between states of tuning in and tuning out, to different degrees.
When you remain tuned out for extended periods of time, however, you can begin to feel disconnected from your body and the depth of your experience in your body. Your body will begin to express this disconnection through reactionary signals. Some signals that might indicate you’ve been tuned out for too long are a withdrawal of attention, reduced vitality, discomfort, absence of pleasure, and pain. Deepak Chopra wrote a wonderful book describing this concept in more detail, Reinventing the Body, Resurrecting the Soul.
Tuning in to your body and practicing awareness can be done through movement and offer you so many of the benefits that a seated meditation will also bring.
3 Ways to Practice Moving Meditation
1. Walking (or Biking) Meditation
Originally, this practice was a technique used in Buddhism as the break between seated meditations. When the body is in motion, maybe walking or biking, we can go into autopilot. Our bodies know how to put one foot in front of the other, and we carry on. We may drop out of a state of awareness as we walk, letting the mind wander elsewhere, past our next step, or possibly back in time to something you’ve already experienced. A walking meditation brings your awareness back into the present moment, offering you the ability to more deeply experience the nature and environment surrounding you.
In a walking or biking meditation, your eyes are open, your awareness is in the present moment, and you are fully experiencing each step you take and how it feels in your body, each breath you take and how it feels in your body, and all that you see around you and how you perceive your environment through your body.
2. Mindful Movement in Yoga
With as many styles of yoga as there are styles of meditation, your movement practice on your mat can absolutely be a meditative practice, especially when moving at a slower pace. Often, one can feel deeply tuned in during their yoga practice—finding the link of body and mind fused into one.
Moving and stretching brings your awareness to your body and the experience of feeling your body. By practicing yoga mindfully, your time on your mat becomes a meditative and nourishing practice.
3. Tuning into Daily Tasks
Whether you are chopping veggies or doing the dishes, small tasks can become little moments of mindfulness that cumulatively become meditative. However, sometimes these simple daily tasks like changing your little one’s diaper or putting your lotion on after you shower can become things that we ‘just do’ rather than things we experience.
This practice of tuning into your daily tasks can become especially powerful when you give a deeper level of presence and awareness to your special rituals and self-care practices.
Once you’re comfortable in moving meditations, try a seated meditation for beginners.
Living a ‘well’ life and living a life of mindfulness are one and the same. Keep returning to the present moment and cultivating new levels of awareness around your body and mind. Whether you already have a practice or are just beginning, bringing movement to your meditation will bring beauty into your life.