There are many types of meditation available and their benefits are plenty. Depending on your personality and objective for practising meditation, you will find one that suits your needs. If you have tried sitting meditation and find that it does not work for you because your mind just keeps drifting or you find yourself getting restless after a short while, movement meditation will be a good alternative.
This is definitely for the highly energetic people who find it hard to sit still or take a pause in their lives! In some monasteries and meditation retreats, participants alternate between sitting meditation and moving meditation (usually walking meditation) in order to exercise the physical body, release tension and stimulate blood circulation.
Mindfulness is the biggest part of movement meditation. When you are mindful of the body, it means that you are mindful of how your muscles move and the feeling of how your feet brush against the floor when you walk. You begin to pay attention to the body and how it feels as it moves, turns and twists. You will feel even conscious of your breathing, heartbeat and other sensations.
Movement meditation focuses on the movements of the body rather than the goal of the movement. Eg. Picking up a bowl from the table is not usually registered by your mind but being mindful of the process makes the movement very different. You feel the bend of the legs and arm as you reach out to pick up the bowl and you notice the movement of the head as you look towards the bowl. You feel and notice the extra weight in your hand as you lift the bowl. All of these are done in a state of awareness during movement meditation.
Sounds fun and interesting? Let’s get started on this basic 10 step guide to movement meditation:
Relax into rhythm
1. Sit in a comfortable position and align your breath with your body. Try to relax and make your movements and breath into one, like someone moving in tune with a pendulum.
2. Put your hands on your body and feel the movement of breath as you breathe in and out. Notice how your arms extend and return slightly.
Tune in with your sensations and feelings
3. Start to stand up and observe what happens. You will feel your hands touch the ground, your legs begin to extend, your spine straighten and your neck strengthen as you move from a sitting position to a standing one.
4. Once you are standing, observe the sensations and feelings in your body and take note of any uncomfortable ones. Adjust your body to make the uncomfortable sensations and feelings disappear. If you are unable to do so, then just take note for now and move on to somewhere else.
5. Start at the top of your head and look out for any sensations or feelings that come into mind. Once you felt the sensations and feelings at the top of your head, move on downwards to your forehead, eyes, cheeks, nose, ears, lips, chin neck etc. Take your time, do not rush and move at your own pace. Keep moving through your whole body, taking note of any feelings and sensations you have until you reach the tips of your toes.
6. Bring your whole body back into focus and begin to move with your heartbeat. Feel your body as it moves side to side or back and forth.
7. Stretch an arm into the air and visualize that you are picking a pretty flower off a plant that is slightly out of reach. Notice how your arm lengthens as you reach out for the flower and how you tip your toes in order to maximize the length of your arm to reach the flower. Notice all the movements of your body as this simple act takes place.
8. Repeat with the other arm.
9. Leave your standing spot and move around the area you are in. Notice the feelings and sensations that take place as you start to move. Your legs, hips, and spine all work together to create movement. Take your own pace to observe the individual feelings and sensations in those areas.
10. Now, sit back and pay attention to your body as it bends. End as you began, aligning your breath with your body.
In summary, this is just an example and variation of movement meditation. There are a few variations of movement meditation – dancing, walking, shaking, cleaning and running. Isn’t that simple and easy to do? It is a part of everyday life for many of us! The most important is to be mindful of your body and look out for any sensations and feelings that occur as a result of practising movement meditation. Meditation has never been easier!