Moving Meditation Practices
Moving meditation can be a powerful practice to incorporate into our lives. We so often meditate while sitting still, as is the tradition in many lineages. However, the Buddha himself recommended practicing meditation in other postures and while moving. In his discourse on mindfulness, it is specifically suggested that we should practice while in different postures and while moving.
We don’t sit all day in formal meditation. We’re up and on the go, moving and doing things. We can bring our practice to these activities by beginning to dedicate time and energy toward investigating meditating while moving.
We can of course meditate and practice mindfulness during our days and any activity we are doing, but here are a few ways to begin investigating some meditation practices that incorporate movement.
Moving Meditation Techniques
Yoga may not seem like meditation always on the surface. There are some yoga classes that are more workout based, while many traditional practices are grounded firmly in meditation. Yoga and meditation have a long history together, and predate Buddhist meditation.
This form of moving and stretching meditation can be a beautiful practice. I’m not the most flexible person in the world, but consider myself a decent yogi. Yoga isn’t about looking beautiful while falling into a complex pose. It’s a practice in connecting the mind and body together.
Just as we practice mindfulness of the body in sitting meditation with something like a body scan, we can practice in a similar way while moving in yoga. To get started, you can find a local yoga studio, practice from home with videos on Youtube, or take an online course.
There are some great online courses that aren’t too expensive and offer a great way to get started, like the Yoga for Healing and Yoga and Love online courses. We also love the YouTube videos from Yoga with Adriene, as she offers a pretty introductory and mellow practice. However, it may be best to have a teacher to be present and guide you in person!
2. Walking Meditation
Walking meditation is practiced by many people in different traditions around the world. In different types of Buddhism, there are different practices. I personally love walking meditation, and incorporate it into my regular practice.
One reason that I love this form of moving meditation is that we can really do it any time. Yoga may require a little bit of time set aside, but we can meditate while walking any time during our days. Whether we deliberately set aside a minute or two to walk, or we’re walking to the bust stop, we can practice.
With walking meditation we can practice mindfulness of the body, open awareness, metta, or almost anything else. It’s just another posture of the body, but we can bring our practice just the same! Gil Fronsdal offers great walking meditation instructions you can try!
Like yoga, qigong has a long history. Coming from China over 4,000 years ago, this is an ancient practice that has been incorporated into Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, and other philosophies. I was introduced to Qigong at Deer Park Monastery some years ago, and have continued to investigate the practices over the years on retreats and local classes.
This practice relates to meditation, martial arts, and ancient Chinese medicine. With a strong emphasis on balancing qi (or chi), it really offers a unique way to investigate meditation while moving. The slow and fluid movements, practices in deep breathing, and focus on balancing the energy make it one of my favorite forms of moving meditation.
There are many ways to get started with qigong. Unlike yoga, there are not studios on every corner to practice. You can look for a local class or teacher, find YouTube videos, or try an online course. Conscious Lifestyle Magazine offers some great introductory classes, or you can check out an online qigong course to give it a shot.
We’ve talked about this practice many times before, like in our post on 17 Ways to Be More Mindful in Daily Life. We were originally introduced to this practice via Thich Nhat Hanh’s book the Miracle of Mindfulness. Since then, I have incorporated this practice into my own life, into my teachings, and while working one-on-one with students.
There are all things we do regularly, often on autopilot. We can use these moments as opportunities to practice some moving meditation. Some examples we often use and investigate ourselves include:
- Doing dishes
- Cooking food
- Brushing your teeth
- Washing your hands
- Answering a telephone
- Opening a door
- Putting on/taking off clothing
- Drinking water
There are of course many ways we can practice this, and we can find what works well for us. Personally, I’ve found it beneficial to pick one activity for the day or week, and really set a clear intention. Every time you go to cook food or drink some water, really tune into your present-time experience. This can be a beautiful way to bring our practice to our daily life.
This may be a bit of a shocker. First, don’t close your eyes and fall into a samatha practice while driving! Be safe, be aware, and don’t try too hard to be in any specific state of mind.
Driving while meditating can be a really interesting experience. If you haven’t investigated this practice, I recommend trying it while walking on the sidewalk first or just sitting in your car. As you move, notice the sounds around you, the movement, and the people. This is just a practice in open awareness.
To drive safely, we need to be aware of what is going on around us, and not focusing on the radio, our phones, or anything else. So, make this a practice. As you drive, really notice what is going on. If somebody cuts you off, notice the reaction. Just tune into your own experience of driving along.
You can also try the stealth metta practice. If you’re sitting a stop light, offer some phrases of metta, or loving-kindness, to the people in cars around you. Often, we forget that the other cars have people in them, just like us! Try to connect with the humanity of these other people and wish well for them today.
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