Meditation in Movement: a quick lesson in mindfulness
The benefit of infusing daily meditation practice into your life are well known, but that doesn’t necessarily mean resigning yourself to sitting in stillness. Meditation in movement can be equally beneficial.
We know meditating, even just for a few moments a day, can reduce stress, promote emotional health and may enhance self-awareness. Setting aside a quiet moment in a peaceful place to sit and meditate sounds lovely, doesn’t it? Sitting in lotus position – which is sitting cross-legged with each foot placed on the opposite thigh – while envisioning white light all around and running right through you as you keep focus on the space above the eyebrows knows as the Third Eye Chakra can be calming and restorative.
Even though sitting in stillness may sound like “pure bliss,” the reality of life often shows us how difficult it can be to find those few mindful moments. With the recent pandemic, it feels as though we are facing a shift in the universe.
Maybe you’re self-isolating or your work was forced to shut down temporarily. Maybe with the kids home from school you no longer have the space, time or a single quiet moment to yourself. Maybe you’re still working, and work is busier than ever, and you’re feeling tired, overworked and the last thing on your mind is practicing meditation.
I’m offering a variation to a typical meditation session. Instead of setting aside a specific time each day to sit in meditation, I want you to consider trying this Meditation in Movement practice.
I know it can be a bit stressful to try to fit in a meditation practice every day. When we miss it, we may feel as though we’ve failed; guilt may start to creep in. With one day missed, another day is missed, and so on. But I ask that you’re not hard on yourself – this practice can be done anywhere at any time.
Meditation is essentially fixed concentration. Take your wandering thoughts of past and future worries and bring them into the present moment. Bring your attention to the task at hand. Really tune into what it is you are doing in this very moment. Every breath you take, every move you make. (Yes! Just like the song.) Keep dedicated awareness to mind, body and breath.
There are a few simple ways you can practice this Meditation in Movement at home.
While brushing your teeth, notice how you’re standing at the sink. Are you slouching lazily, half sleeping? Are you letting the water run, possibly being unintentionally wasteful? Instead, try standing with your feet connected into the ground. As soon as you remember to turn the water off, look at yourself in the mirror, wide-eyed and grinning. Match your breathing in and out through your nose while brushing and see if you can count how many brushes each tooth receives.
How about when you’re washing and putting away the dishes? It’s just a simple mindless task, right? How about not! Wash those dishes with integrity and ease breathing deeply while doing so. Plant your feet into the ground, staying connected. When putting the dishes away, can you do so gently and mindfully? Can you carefully place each dish into its rightful place, as if to give Mr. Plate a little good night tuck in.
How about more difficult and laborious tasks around the home, such as painting your walls. When you have to squat down and you feel it in your knees and lower back. Or you have to reach up super high to get those hard to reach places, all while holding your breath and muscles tightly. Try adding some longer, deeper matched inhales and exhales through the nose to keep the heart rate at a steady pace.
Pad the knees with a blanket instead of squatting or offer yourself a few extra breaks when the arms are reaching up and over head. Take time to check in with yourself to see how your body is feeling while you are doing more strenuous tasks.
Are you washing your hands over and over again while at work? Again, instead of just mindlessly going through the motions, can you check in with your body and your breath. While washing your hands, instead of thinking about what’s for dinner, see if your can bring attention to every single movement your body makes while washing every finger, and so on.
If you walk a lot at work, occasionally look down at your feet. Watch and feel the connection of each foot as it meets the ground. Maybe take some slower steps, even if just for a few moments.
If you’re working from home or sitting at a desk all day, practice bringing your shoulders up to your ears on a big inhale and then exhale, out through the mouth loudly if you’re feeling free; just let that go! Give yourself a couple of shoulder rolls one way then the other. Move your spine around if that feels good. Check out your posture and see if you’re a “slouch-ma-gouch.”
Grow tall in your seat and keep your breath fluid.
There are so many ways to add meditation and movement into your daily life, the key is to continually tap into your own self. You want to become the watcher - the watcher of your own thoughts, breath and movement. Always bring the awareness back.
When you find yourself mindlessly just going about your day, thinking about this, that and the other – stop, pause and notice. Connect in with your breath and within yourself and take the next steps in a beautifully, meditative way.
That, my friends, is mindfulness. That is Meditation in Movement.