Monday, August 24, 2015

The Relaxation of Moving Meditations

When we think of meditation, most of us picture someone in a seated position, remaining very still and upright, with eyes closed (or half closed), who might perhaps be working to monitor their thoughts, which rise and fall spontaneously.  But there is another kind of meditation called moving meditation, which is woven into various types of activities, particularly relaxing exercises such as Qigong, Tai Chi and Yoga.

With this in mind, we must reconsider what “meditation” means.  Is it just sitting still and  working to monitor the thoughts as they drift in and out of the mind?  Or is meditation about trying to remain fully present in any activity--be it sitting, standing, walking or other forms of movement? 
Whether one is attempting to stay in the present moment by not chasing every thought that arises, or whether one is trying to simply monitor the breath moment by moment, the common denominator is that meditation is that practice and effort which helps the practitioner stay in the moment regardless of activity.  Seated meditation is a meditation that represents physical stillness (as is standing meditation practice), but mindful meditation can take place in the movement of any activity be it the gracefulness of Tai Chi, or the skillful art of archery.
Tai Chi Chuan and Qigong are only a couple of the various forms of moving meditations, but you don't have to know a skilled martial art in order to use mindful and moving meditation in your life.  Walking can also be done in the form of a moving meditation, as can dance, running, or any other sports activity such as golfing.  The common theme that runs through them all is your state of mind--are you fully present and aware at this moment?
I once heard a meditation teacher say that the only difference between skilled meditation practitioners who go about their day walking to various activities and such, and those who are not skilled, is that the skilled practitioners are aware that they are walking and moving, and the unskilled individuals are not.
Every moment of your day is a moment to practice mindfulness.  Movement does not mean that mindful meditation has stopped.
Thanks to Reed George for his great photo - Kyudo Practitioner