You might think of meditation as a motionless activity, although that in itself is an oxymoron being that the word “activity” by definition involves movement of some sort?
For many people, the definition of meditation is creating the space to sit quietly without moving for a long period of time, allowing yourself to simply be, focusing on the breath and thoughts, images, etc. – a period of introspection and contemplation.
My own meditation practice, however, also involves a lot of movement and activity as I consciously “move” my attention inwards, “run” energy through a network of channels in my body, “release” energy that is interfering with my own individual path, “ground” out negativity and so on.
But let’s take it a step further and consider meditation while physically moving.
I just returned home from a walk with my dog, Buddy, in the hills up at the end of our road – a beautiful network of trails, climbing high above the city I live in. I love to walk, particularly in this open space, because of the opportunity to experience “meditation in motion”.
We walk alongside each other; Buddy in his own meditative space taking in every smell, sight and sound along the way, stopping to leave his mark at carefully selected spots; and I in mine feeling the gentle breeze and warmth of the sun on my skin.
As I walk, I become increasingly aware of my body, paying close attention to each step so as to avoid potential pitfalls such as ground squirrel burrows, rain-made ruts and loose gravel. I feel my muscles at work, my heart beating faster and my lungs expanding and contracting with the breath.
I recognize my connection to the earth as I feel the ground beneath my feet and hear the crunch of fallen leaves along the path. I recognize my spirituality when I look at the vast, endless blue sky stretching in every direction above me. I notice the flow of thoughts and images that surface, and release those that are not mine.
On this particular occasion, I found myself remembering the Breast Cancer walk in which I participated a couple of years ago – a 60 mile walk over the course of three days – a profound “meditation in motion” experience.
I chose to do this walk on my own – most of the 2,400 walkers were in pairs, groups or teams – for a number of reasons, some of which did not become clear to me until I was actually there.
The first day I was walking alone within the crowd for several hours in the morning when a young woman came up alongside me and struck up a conversation. It was nice to have some company and we spent the rest of the day walking together.
However, in the middle of the afternoon, I noticed that I was walking faster than my natural pace and that I was losing connection with my body as I matched my partner. Just before reaching camp in the late afternoon, my partner stopped to check her feet for blisters as she was experiencing some discomfort, and found the backs of her heels badly blistered.
I, too, had become aware of a strange sensation around my right little toe and so took the opportunity to check it out. I found a small hot spot – the possible beginnings of a blister.
We parted company on arrival at camp in order to set up our tents, after which I went to the medical tent and wrapped my toe.
The next morning, I looked for my friend but could not find her and so I set out on the walk alone. Although, I missed the company, I was also somewhat relieved because I could again walk at my own pace and focus on taking care of and paying attention to my body and what it might be telling me along the way.
I soon found myself in a meditative state, focusing intently on my body, my thoughts and consciously separating myself from the rest of the walkers. I paid attention to my breathing and communicated with my feet and the muscles in my body that were being put to the test. I used my energy tools to protect and heal myself as I walked.
I reached camp that night in good physical and mental health – no blisters, no injuries, no fear of walking another 20 miles the next day.
By entering into a state of meditation, contemplation and introspection as I walked, I was able to achieve my goal of completing the walk safely, successfully and in good health – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.
Have you ever watched a golf pro, tennis player, gymnast or the like at work? If so, you may have noticed or recognized the intense inward focus they maintain, the meditative state they enter in order to connect with themselves and disregard any distractions as they practice their skill.
Have you ever walked a labyrinth? – an ancient mystical, religious and spiritual practice that allows for meditation, contemplation, introspection and connection with yourself and your own concept of God while walking the path into the center of the labyrinth and back out again.
Meditation in motion!
It’s everywhere – take a look for yourself and notice where and how you may practice it.
Photos courtesy of flickr & stock.xchng.