For most of us, finding time for ourselves is difficult. Whether it’s too many commitments or feeling guilty for not “doing anything,” it can be challenging to focus on ourselves and what we need. What would you do if you found out that you could experience the benefits of a relaxed, focused, and calm mind without upending your daily routine? That the walk you take your dog on daily could do more for you than count towards your step count? Or the 15 minute yoga practice you do right when you wake up could leave you more emotionally fulfilled than just physically stretched? Movement meditation is there for those of us who don’t have the time for ourselves.
What is Movement Meditation?
What exactly is movement meditation? Simply put, it’s practicing meditation while incorporating conscious movement that allows us to connect deeper within ourselves. Whether it is dancing, walking, or more traditionally, yoga or tai chi, intentional movement can assist us in achieving a state of mind similar to other, more sedentary types of meditation.
So, how exactly do you get started? As with all types of meditation, being intentional and conscious of ourselves is essential. With movement meditation, it’s important to move your body in a mindful way. This goes beyond you intentionally placing your foot on the yoga mat or putting on your gym shoe to go running; it is to be fully aware of yourself—how you are standing, where you are putting pressure, how your muscles feel. Overall, the goal is to be aware of your body, and to move it in a way that connects with your mind and what you are aiming to achieve with your meditation practice. We’re going to give you a few examples of different types of movement meditation, in hopes that you’ll find one that really speaks to you!
While yoga is popular, it can be tough to keep your mind “still” when practicing. This is where movement meditation comes in. Set your intentions before going into your practice; think of what you want to achieve emotionally during your practice. Do you hope to ease anxiety going into a busy work week? With each stretch, use the energy and strength you feel to pull you into the mindset of success. Are you looking to find clarity? With each breath, release the emotions of what you feel is clouding you. Use these intentions to guide your mind while moving your body. The activity paired with your mind meditation will leave you feeling better than when you started. We suggest these yin yoga poses to get you started!
The key to walking meditation is to focus on your steps and your breath. Though some experts suggest pacing 10-15 steps back and forth to practice walking meditation, others lean towards the idea of a free walk, wherever your feet take you. Regardless of the method you choose, be sure you are in a peaceful and safe location that allows you to focus on your movement and breathing. Perhaps the greatest benefit of this type of movement meditation is that there is absolutely no time limit; a short walk to the mailbox, a long walk on the beach, or a quick jaunt around the block with the pup—no matter how much time you have, there is time in your day to practice walking meditation.
Like many, I tend to get self-conscious while dancing in public. But when I’m alone, I can get lost in the music and can’t help but move my feet. Oftentimes, I find myself thinking about things that have been bothering me, and with every step I take to every drum beat, I feel a little bit less stressed. I’m able to make the world smaller for enough time to feel like I can handle everything thrown at me. This, believe it or not, is a form of mediation, and it’s helped countless people gain confidence and clarity!
Following your thoughts, allowing your body to move and really feeling every step you take, every jump you jump, you can use this to meditate and focus on your problems. The best part? You can do this whenever you have any time! Find an upbeat, quick song and let yourself feel the beats. Put on your favorite acoustic riff and let the music wash over you as you sway, letting your stress drop with each movement. Most of all, don’t be self-conscious! Everybody and every body is beautiful. You can disco, you can jive, salsa or shimmy–you can even do the electric slide! Whichever dance you choose, it ought to still reflect the ideas of conscious movement and focused thought.
Unofficial & Accessible Ways to Practice Movement Meditation
While this list is not full of “official” ways to practice movement meditation, we like to think that if you practice intentionally, and do so wholeheartedly, you can achieve similar results to the “official” ways to practice movement mediation above.
- Crafting – focusing on a different train of thought with each color change in a painting; put together that bird house that’s been sitting in your garage and use it as a way to bring yourself closer to peace with each nail you add.
- Jog – if walking is too slow for you, step it up a bit and take a little jog. Focus on breathing with your steps, noticing how long your strides are. There’s no shame in having an active brain, so get moving!
- Sensory touch – have a fluffy dog at home that needs some love? Pull out that brush and mindfully brush your pup, noticing how their fur moves with each stroke, colors changing in the light. Looking to finally break out the knitting? Knit one, purl two, and take three seconds to take a deep breath.
The Bottom Line
No matter which type of movement mediation you choose, we’re confident you’ll find the right choice for you. Get moving!
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- Photography by OdinCat Media Group
- Yoga pose graphic courtesy of dimensions.com