Movement Meditation: Introduction

Movement Meditation

Not everyone is suited to all meditation techniques. Some people do really well lying down or sitting still, and other people are suited to meditation that occurs during repetitive movement. Some people use both, depending on the circumstances and what they prefer.

So here is a bit of information about moving meditation; which are the kind I prefer to do. Having a panic disorder forced me to look outside of what was the norm (at the time I was researching meditation) for other ways to still my mind, and I found that for me, walking, repetitive art strokes, and even rocking were more conducive to me reaching a calmer, focused place; than simply forcing my body to be still.

I decided to learn how to work with my body, instead of against it, which is what it felt like when I made myself be still for too long. Movement meditation is also fantastic for people who keep falling asleep during stillness-based meditations. I’ve also met people who have problems like RSL (Restless Leg Syndrome), who simply can’t trust their body to relax or sink into stillness. It can be very frustrating, especially as cultivating a sense of mental calmness and focus is a core building block for many forms of pagan or animistic spirituality.

Movement meditation can be very helpful. They involve repetitive movement in order to keep the body occupied so that at any time – if you feel you that you are panicking or stressing about not getting the meditation right – you can focus not only on your breathing, but also on your body movements the move and flex of your muscles.

An additional benefit of movement meditation for beginners that are having no success with techniques that require physical stillness; is that it can teach you what sort of mind-frame you are aiming for so that, when you do attempt to master physical stillness techniques, you know in advance what to expect.

Some people walk at a mostly empty park or oval in a wide circle. If you do this enough, your body will start to learn the dimensions of the circle, and will be able to keep walking on this path even as your mind starts to find places of stillness and calm. It’s almost like ‘zoning out’ except that you’re doing it intentionally, with a focus on calming yourself. The benefit of walking meditations is that you also get some gentle exercise, which in some people enervates the body and mind, and helps to shape wellbeing.

You can also get a container of grain or birdseed. Put your hand in the grain, scoop some up, and then let the grain fall through your fingers. Repeat. As you do this, listen to the sound the grain makes, feel the texture on your fingers, the temperature of the grain, and the move and flex of your wrist muscles. You can even visualise your stresses falling back into the container as the grain falls through your fingers. The same can be done with sand or small pebbles.

Be imaginative. Some people do movement meditations while washing the dishes, or even rhythmically scrubbing the floor or stains out of clothing. Circular movements while polishing a car, or gently stirring a soup or risotto can also be other repetitive motions that you can attempt to bring a meditative or focused, calming mental state to. For some, simple dance steps, artwork that requires cross-hatching (and repetition in general), knitting, cross-stitch, or kneading clay (and so much more) can be ways to incorporate movement meditations into your daily life.

Most people do find states of stillness while doing these sorts of repetitive tasks; they just rarely take notice consciously, and so can lose on some of the benefits that intention can bring. For those who do not trust walking in a public place, or anything else mentioned here, you can simply try gently rocking back and forth in a safe place, or pacing up and down a quiet corridor. Rocking is a self-soothing activity that often starts to soothe the mind anyway. Taking it one step further than that and consciously applying an intent to meditate can turn this into a spiritually productive activity.

Think laterally, I am sure that there are repetitive, and even boring movements that you make in your life which you could add some conscious intent to, and develop your meditation skills at the same time.