What exactly does it mean to move while in mediation? Learn how to use this concept to turn everyday actions into a meditative process.
What is Moving Meditation?
When most people hear the term meditation, they think of someone sitting with their eyes closed. When you add the term “moving” along with “meditation,” people get confused. Many people don’t understand that meditation includes both seated and moving forms. Stationary forms are the standard in the West. It is just as beneficial to learn to move in a meditative state.
We define moving meditation as action and conscious awareness of the mind, body, and surroundings. It is a movement that fully engages our attention inward and outward. Therefore, it is a change in perception accompanied by action.
Motive meditation comes with some health benefits. It helps improve mind-body coordination. It reduces internal chatter enabling us to become fully present, alert, and calm. It reduces stress. And it generates positive energy. We can create our “own” meditation forms while engaging in an activity once we learn how these elements work. We’ll discuss how to do this later; it’s how to create your path.
What Can Moving Meditation Do for Me?
The regular use of active meditation helps us move beyond our Ego’s default settings. Our Ego, the home of personality, is a tool of consciousness. When we are born, we need a default structure to build our understanding of the world. Our Ego is the default setting. Through it, we learn to understand language and develop social connections.
Unfortunately, many people never move beyond this default setting. They live under the false idea that they are their personality. It’s a state of fixation that creates tunnel vision. As a result, we are not fully present. We lose our sense of self and only see the task at hand. And, this is another reason moving meditation is so beneficial. It gives us back a genuine sense of self. It helps restore us to our original state, a state of innocence.
Perfect innocence is the state before we are subject to programming by the cultural narrative. In the West, this is programming comes from organized religion. It’s a worldview that promotes bias and prejudice. It is the source of many kinds, from religious sectarianism to gender and ethnic discrimination.
Design Your Spiritual Path
As you might guess, moving meditation is one of the principal elements of spiritual exploration. It’s a standard element in many spiritual paths. It’s a practical way to expand awareness and develop our spiritual gifts.
Researching consciousness is the focus of many ancient cultures. They are many pioneers around the globe from which we gather the techniques we use today. This suite of methods includes a vast range from simple mindfulness through an array of distinct forms of the eightfold path of Yoga.
There’s probably at least one kind of moving meditation that’s right for you. If you can’t find one, you can likely create one to fit your needs. Now that you know how to combine movement with expanding awareness. Creating your path with different forms of mediation is the key. It gives you variety but with a central theme.
For example, George Gurdjieff (1) developed a system based primarily on meditative movement. The core of this system is a series of “Gurdjieff movements.” These movements require a high level of focus and coordination. Other Eastern and indigenous cultures incorporate moving meditation in their practice.
There are many forms of the Shamanic Journey. Some use dance to enter an altered state of awareness. You can find these forms all over the world. They make their way into Western organized religion in what they call “spirit dancing.” You’ll see people dancing in circles while chanting.
Why Expand Awareness?
The goal of practices that expand awareness is to facilitate growth and development. Our awareness naturally grows when we use moving meditation, and the more you use it, the more aware you become. It moves along the continuum of consciousness.
Regular mediation expands awareness to merge mindfulness with bliss or transcendental consciousness (TC). Some refer to TC as the fourth state of awareness. You reach this state using a seated meditation technique like Japa.
When we combine TC with active mindfulness, we have a separate higher state of consciousness. It’s the sixth state some refer to as Witnessing. This evolution is the natural growth of awareness resulting from regular mediation.
This modality of spiritual practice raises several interesting questions. We’ll give answers to the most asked questions.
Tai Chi as a Moving Meditation
Tai Chi benefits your health and wellness. It’s a way of aligning the mind and the body. Thus, it has become a popular element of health and wellness. However, all forms of this practice originate from Eastern martial arts. Depending on the style, there could be combat applications. Many commercial forms of this art are devoid of their combat applications, and some structures have progressions that incorporate acrobatic movements. Tai Chi has many options from which to choose.
The slower tempo of Tai Chi makes it easy to learn and protects you from injury. However, some forms have quicker bursts of movement — Indonesian of Tai Ke, for instance. People can learn the Jurus without understanding the martial application. It’s a standard tactic among the most experienced teachers. The master teaches the principles of movement but holds back the martial art applications for only those they trust will not abuse the art.
It’s possible to learn the basics of the art via video. However, the best results come from face-to-face instruction. A qualified instructor can help you move and align properly. Practicing in front of a mirror is beneficial. That’s because the way we “think” we are moving may differ from how we are moving. It’s a frequent error. Many other forms of active meditation are easier to learn and produce immediate results.
Qigong is another Eastern form of moving meditation. It is like Tai Chi. It is standard to practice Qigong with Tai Chi either together or in a sequence. They typically use Qigong first to generate energy. Then, Tai Chi follows to project this energy. Some Indonesian forms blend Qigong and Tai Chi concepts into one package.
The primary focus of Qigong is to generate energy which usually combines specific kinds of breathing with isometric muscle movement. In turn, this causes glands to release various hormones. Qigong is more static and less fluid and graceful than typical Tai Chi to the untrained observer.
Practicing Qigong creates both spiritual and physical energy. So, Qigong is the engine for both healing and martial arts applications. It is not surprising that the best martial artists are also some of the best healers. They need to be; they can help heal those they will train.
Using active mindfulness with martial arts is an advanced application. Those who train for combat train for hours using several exercises to cultivate mindfulness under duress. Remaining mindful during an ever-changing physical confrontation is not for the beginner.
Mindfulness in Motion
Mindfulness is a term that can have different meanings. So, here’s how we define it. Mindfulness is a mental quality of awareness. When we are mindful, our complete attention is in the present. When we are present, our internal dialogue slows or stops. Therefore, mindfulness in motion is an active form of meditation when we bring the transcendent’s silence into action.
Tai Chi and Qigong can do this if done correctly. The Japanese Tea Ceremony is a formalized method for achieving mindfulness, but it takes dedicated time and study. However, there are other ways to do this.
There are two types of techniques for mindfulness meditation. One is for seated meditation, and the other is for moving meditation. You learn the process while sitting and then bring it into motion. It’s perhaps the easiest method. That’s because you do not have to follow any set movement pattern. You are free to observe your body and surroundings.
Hence, the key to creating your “own” form of active meditation is keeping a heightened presence level while in motion. Those who study martial arts use several exercises to keep them fully present. You must be able to resist powerful emotions like fear and anger.
Methods of Moving Meditation
First, walking is the easiest of all movements to make into active meditation. It’s the easiest way to carry the meditative focus into action. The basic progressions for mindfulness start with seated meditation is where you bring awareness fully into your body. Then you can take this awareness into the walking mindfulness technique. Follow the above links to learn these progressions.
The next obvious progression from walking is running. Unfortunately, many people miss the opportunity to engage in this level of mindfulness. That’s because they listen to music or social media while engaging in running. However, this activity often creates the exact opposite effect of mindfulness. Listening can distract your attention and create a “tunnel vision.” It will shift the focus on entertaining the Ego or analytical tasks. It is harder to focus on our bodies and surroundings when we use external input.
Tai Chi & Qigong
After learning the primary forms of moving meditation, it’s time for more adventurous methods. Tai Chi and Qigong are good progressions.
You can add mindfulness meditation to dance movements. Begin your mindfulness meditation practice, then stand up and start walking. Once you are comfortable with this, start dancing. Finally, add music once you can maintain the mindfulness mindset while dancing. If done correctly, it will induce a trance-like state we find in shamanic practices around the globe.
Shamanic Dance with Drum creates a level of mindfulness. There are typically several people dancing. It can be distracting, so it’s not for the beginner. However, you can attend a session and work your way up. Start by sitting with your eyes closed using the seated mindfulness technique. Then the next step is opening the eyes. If you can maintain your mindfulness, then stand and walk. You should be able to hold the mindfulness meditation technique while walking. Once you master walking, you can start dancing.
Many healing arts are both an outlet for your mindfulness and a way of helping others. And if your work involves non-injurious repetition, this might be a candidate.
Creating Your Path
First, It’s essential to have a firm basis with seated and moving mindfulness meditation techniques before creating your own. It will give you a platform for building your practice. The more physically challenging the activity, the more difficult it will be to attain and maintain mindfulness.
Next, select a fluid movement. Be sure you have adequate space to move and maintain a heightened awareness level. The best things are the activities you know by heart. These are things where you develop muscle memory. Skiing and swimming are examples of this type of fluid action.
Be sure to keep track of your experience in your spiritual journal. Track your progress. People find they master things they could never do before. Sometimes it takes is time to learn how to hold the state of mindfulness while engaging in an activity. Then you can take it with you into other parts of your life. Last, experiment with it. See what works and what does not.
Our mind is an incredible instrument of perception. It is capable much more than the popular culture wants us to believe. Our bodies are home to deep wisdom and intelligence hidden within our DNA. It’s the gifts from our ancestors. When we use our minds and body together, we can accomplish many things. All it takes is practice.
Are you interested in spiritual exploration? Check out the blended learning process at the core of our teaching process. We offer this curriculum through our individually tailored virtual learning academy and traditional face-to-face sessions. It reflects what Joseph Campbell called the Hero’s Journey (2). Our learning options include both face-to-face and virtual learning sessions. Please consider donating and supporting our mission.
(1) George Gurdjieff, Wikipedia
(2) Joseph Campbell’s book The Hero’s Journey, Wikipedia