Perhaps the changing seasons have brought a mixture of emotions or maybe people just need more peace, but I have received an increase in questions pertaining to meditation. Meditation provides a number of benefits including reducing stress, lowering high blood pressure, enhancing the immune system, helping with depression, preventing heart disease and increasing energy. Meditation encourages one to let go, quiet the mind, but turn in to focus on awareness.
While the idea of meditation sounded delightful to me, it was a huge challenge for my overactive mind and body. The phrase “practice makes perfect” resonates with meditation and I have slowly opened my heart to embrace it, but this took a tremendous amount of time and patience. Has anyone seen the movie ‘Eat Pray Love’? Do you recall when Julia Roberts attempted to meditate while visiting an ashram in India and almost lost it after only a minute had passed? That was my situation.
My eyes were opened to the true power of meditation when I learned you can meditate while moving. Yoga is meditation through movement and it took me numerous years to fully comprehend this concept. As you flow through the physical “asanas” (or postures) with awareness, you connect to your breath and trigger a focus that quiets the mind. Once I understood that meditation did not necessarily mean that my mind traveled to a far off land, but instead stayed present and calm – I wanted to find ways to incorporate this into my life outside of the yoga studio and in obtainable methods. I share with you my favorite moving meditations that have found their way into my life:
- Running – When running (or any other recurring activity), concentrate on your breathing, repetitive motions and movements. I tend to think of my feet landing on the ground and pushing off to propel me forward. Now center on your breathing following the motion – inhale to a count such as four steps and exhale to the same count. Eventually, the mind will release tension and you might find your zone. If thoughts flutter back into the head, do not get upset. Instead, bring your attention back to your breath and keep moving.
- Moving Gratitude – I would like to thank Silvia Mordini for showing me how to meditate on a specific theme. During any repetitive physical activity, connect the motion to the breath. Once in a pattern, think about all the things you are grateful for. These thoughts can be big like love in the world or they can be small like an amazing pastry for breakfast. If your mind wanders, pause for a second and begin again thinking of gratitude.
- Walking – Similar to the above, connect movement with your breath. Observe everything about your surroundings. Think about the pads of your feet slowly rolling across the earth, smell the air, analyze the light in the sky, hear the sounds of the city. If other thoughts come up, center on being in the moment and continue to breathe deeply and concentrate on your environment. This practice will help you remain present in life.