What is Movement Meditation?
The benefits of meditation cannot be ignored, but not everyone finds it easy to sit in one spot and focus on their breath. Additionally, not everyone has the time to sit and meditate during his or her day. This is why another type of meditation, called movement meditation, can be so beneficial.
Have you ever sat on a beach in a blissful state and picked up handfuls of sand that mesmerized you as you watched them run through your fingers. You probably felt individual grains as the sand left your hands. You may have noticed the way your fingers felt as they opened to let the sand the go through. Other things such as the way you were sitting and breathing likely entered your mind. You were focused and centered, yet you were still moving. This is what movement meditation is all about.
Movement meditation is not your usual meditation where you sit still and focus on your breath. Instead, you are moving through various positions with a mindful and slow pace.
Mindfulness is the biggest part of movement meditation; for example, being mindful of your muscles as they move or the feeling of your feet against the floor as you move. You notice various parts of your body that are otherwise ignored such as you hip, elbow, or cheek. You begin to pay attention to the body and how it feels as it moves, bends, and twists. Even your breathing, heartbeat, and other inner sensations will be better noticed when you are mindful of the body.
Movement meditation focuses on the movements of the body rather than the goal of the movement. For instance, picking up a book is not normally registered by your mind, but being mindful of the process makes the movement much different. For instance, you feel the bend of the legs and the arm as you reach down for the book. You notice the movement as the head as it looks towards the book. You feel the book against your hand as you begin to pick it up. You notice the extra weight in your hand as you lift the book towards you. All of these things are in your awareness during movement meditation.
How is it Practiced?
Just as with sitting meditation, there are many different ways to do it. There is no one position, thought, or movement that is correct. Many people utilize walking meditation where they walk slowly in a predefined space repeatedly while noticing the wind against their skin and their feet against the ground.
No matter what type of movement meditation you do, all forms involve slow movement and mindfulness. With that in mind, we will talk about how to do a movement meditation starting in a sitting position.
1. Take a few moments to sit in a comfortable position and align your breath and body. Try to make your movements and breath one, like swaying your body in time with a swaying tree.
2. Put your hands on your body and feel the movement of breath as you breathe in and out. Notice as your arms extend and return slightly.
3. Start to stand up and notice what occurs. You will likely feel your hands touch the ground, your legs begin to extend, your spine lengthen, and your neck strengthen as you stand up.
4. Once standing, notice the feelings in your body and pay special attention to any uncomfortable feelings. Adjust your body to make those uncomfortable feelings go away, or if you can’t, then just take notice of them and move on to somewhere else.
5. Start at the top of your head and notice sensations or feelings that come into mind. Once you have felt the sensations of the top of the head, move on to the forehead, then the cheeks, nose, ears, lips, chin, and neck. Keep moving through your body, and registering any feelings that you have, until you reach the tip of your toes. This process does not have to take a long time or a short time. It is important to move at your own pace and not judge how fast or slow you are going.
6. Bring your whole body back into focus, instead of just one area, and begin to move with your heartbeat. Feel your body as it moves back and forth or side to side.
7. Raise an arm into the air and pretend as if you are picking a fruit off a tree that is just out of reach. Notice as your arm lengthens and reaches for the fruit. Notice how you toe raises off the ground in order to allow more height for your arm. Notice all the movements of your body during the simple act of reaching for a fruit takes place.
8. Repeat with the other arm.
9. Leave your standing spot and move around the area you are in. Notice the sensations that appear as you begin to take steps. Your feet, your legs, your hips, your stomach all work together to create movement. Take the time to notice the individual sensations in those areas.
10. Now, sit back on the floor and pay attention to your body as it crunches and bends. End as you began, and align your breath with your body.
This is just one variation of movement meditation. You may want to touch things as you stand and notice the sensations that occur. You may want to dance slowly and rhythmically and notice the feelings of your body that you would otherwise ignore. The point is to be mindful of your body and the sensations that occur.
If you are not able to quiet your mind during sitting meditation, then movement meditation can really help you get the focus you need in order to still your mind and reap the rewards of sitting meditation such as calmness, less stress, and focus. Any time your mind wanders, you can simply tense a muscle or move a finger to bring your attention back to your body and the movement.
You will become more in tune with your body through movement meditation. When you are not engaging in it, you will find that you will notice your body more and the movements that it makes. This will help you to notice any inconsistencies such as pain or stiffness that you may otherwise ignore, and attend to the concerns for good health.
You will also become more aware of the things around you as you feel the sensation of objects that you come into contact with. This can help you connect to your surroundings and other people on a higher level.
In conclusion, movement meditation involves being mindful of the sensations that occur during movements. Walking, dancing, cooking, and even going to bed are moments that you can practice this type of meditation.
If you are interested in meditation techniques, please review the program.