Movement meditation might seem like an oxymoron at first. After all, meditation conjures images of perfect stillness and tranquility. But, incorporating movement could potentially make your meditation experience more enriching. Or, if you’re a seasoned meditation practitioner, trying movement meditation could make your practice even more well-rounded and rewarding.
Read on to learn more about this type of meditation and how it could potentially benefit your overall health and quality of life.
What Is Movement Meditation?
Movement meditation (or meditative movement) marries the act and goals of regular meditation with calm, repetitive movements and positions. While seated meditation involves sitting or lying perfectly still as your mind does all the work, movement meditation incorporates slow and practiced bodily movements.
While there are many accepted forms or techniques of moving meditation, such as tai chi or some iterations of yoga, pretty much any movement you make can be used for this method with the right approach. It is especially beneficial for busy or overtaxed individuals who might struggle with slowing or calming down, or for active people who want to incorporate mindfulness or meditation practices into their usual physical activities.1
How Is Movement Meditation Beneficial To Your Body?
Much like other forms, this type of meditation can potentially impact your mind and body in numerous positive ways. Here are some evidence-based benefits of practicing some more established forms of movement meditation, such as tai chi and qigong – two fitness methods of Eastern origin known for combining deliberate or slow movements with the breathing and mindfulness techniques of meditation.
Boost Your Mood
Practicing meditative movement might help support your good mood. Combining the potential benefits of physical exercise with the focus and mindfulness of meditation could promote a calmer state of mind.2
Support Heart And Lung Health
The breathing techniques and the aerobic aspect of movement meditation are great for your heart and lung health. Paying special attention to your breathing as you perform slow, deliberate exercise, often in a standing position (think walking mediation), may help support both cardio and respiratory functions.3
Support The Immune System
A small study concluded that practitioners of qigong, a form of moving mindfulness meditation, had an enhanced immune system response compared to those that don’t. This meditative practice could help support your immune system and overall wellness.4
How To Do Movement Meditation
Here are some ways you can begin practicing movement meditation. There aren’t any hard and fast rules to it, except you must tweak your mindset. Instead of simply performing your chosen movement or activity, actively and intentionally focus on what your body is doing. Become observant and aware of the movement itself — instead of focusing on the movement’s purpose or end goal.5
Here are some suggestions to get you started:
Enjoying a spotless home is great, but while cleaning it, you might be able to reap potential benefits from mindful cleaning. Allow yourself to enter a centered and meditative state as you perform repetitive movements, such as sweeping the floor or wiping surfaces. Observe how the muscles in your arms flex and move as you do your chores. Engage with the task at hand — instead of worrying about what else you have to do or how dirty your space has become.6
Get off your phone and give your usual podcasts or walking playlists a break. Focus on your breath and how your body moves throughout your walk. Think about how your feet feel against the ground in this upright position, or how the wind feels against your swinging arms.
The same works for running. Instead of tuning out the world (or your body) while you run or jog, try to tune into your body. Listen to your breath and sync your movements to it. Be more in the present as you focus on how your body is running instead of where you’re running to or how many miles you have left to go.
Office Desk Stretching
Long hours seated at your work desk can do a number on your mental well-being. Give yourself a few minutes to sit back and stretch out. Perform a series of dynamic, small stretches – think ankle rotations or shaking your wrists – to help circulation. Always start by centering and grounding yourself through deep and rhythmic breaths. Then, allow yourself to let go of the stresses of the day by focusing on the stretching routine.
As previously mentioned, there are many established exercises or disciplines associated with movement meditation and spiritual meditation. Consult your local yoga studio about slower-paced yoga classes, or consider joining local tai chi or qigong groups. You may even want to learn the basics from reputable YouTube instructional videos. The slow movements and controlled breathing of these disciplines make them approachable for potential practitioners of all ages and fitness levels.
Make Meditation Work For You
Movement meditation can help make starting a meditation practice easier. Even simple stretching or small exercises applying mindfulness techniques can be a gateway to a more consistent, rewarding meditation practice. If you’re struggling with staying perfectly still during more traditional forms of meditation, or if you just want to take a more mindful approach to your daily life and activities, give movement meditation a try today.
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