Movement as meditation

Published 26. July 2016.

Following from the idea of movement snacks, movement can serve other purposes beyond improving fitness. There is growing recognition of the benefits of meditation (whatever the style) on our cognition, reduced stress, and overall health. But while the benefits are clear, sticking to a practice of seated meditation for long enough for the gains to acrue is difficult. It's not impossible, and there are a multitude of methods of seated meditation, and even handy apps that can help you create the habit, so if you're looking to create a practice of meditation in stillness it's worth trying out a number of methods to find one that works for you (as is true for movement). Yet in saying that I may seem to be implying that meditation needs to be done while seated or still. It doesn’t have to.

Meditation focuses on tuning into the present moment and attending only to what your senses are telling you—letting idle thoughts and the chatter of the conscious mind slip away and fade into the background. The aim is a feeling of deep embodiment: using and focusing on our senses, all of them. Pulling away from conscious thought has so many potent benefits to creativity, productivity and calmness that it’s always worth having at least one meditative practice.

Movement can be used as a meditation in this regard, and it has for centuries. From t’ai chi, to yoga, to stealth walking, to surfing, any form of movement which calls you to attend to the moment, your environment, and how your body is moving can be a form of meditation. You don't even need a specific practice, just exploring how your body feels as you move it is sufficient and powerful on its own. Likewise a quiet walk through the woods can have similar effects—attending to the sights and sounds while stepping around stones and roots as you go.

Whatever the particulars of the practice I find the act of moving in this meditative way to be rejuvenating, calming and and often a wellspring of ideas.