You know that meditation comes with a whole host of physical and mental benefits. But every time you sit down to do it, you’re immediately desperate to get back up. It’d be easy to assume meditation just isn’t for you. But not so fast! Contrary to the popular stereotype, physical stillness isn’t a prerequisite to entering a restful, meditative state. In fact, moving your body can help calm your mind.
“Movement meditation allows you to tap into the present moment in a very full way, and it can stop chatter happening in the mind in a way that a stationary meditation may not,” says Noelani Rodriguez, a licensed creative arts therapist who specializes in dance movement therapy. Just like traditional meditation techniques, a movement meditation can reduce blood pressure and stress, but it can also help you feel more centered emotionally, physically, and mentally, she adds. “It helps you feel alive through movement, breath, and connection to what’s happening around you.”
“It helps you feel alive through movement, breath, and connection to what’s happening around you.” —Noelani Rodriguez, creative arts therapist
Rodriguez says you can tap into a mindful state while doing just about any activity—cleaning, cooking, painting or other art-making, and even spending time with a pet or a loved one. However, if you don’t know where to begin, she recommends a simple exercise to get started:
- Start standing, or if needed, modify by sitting.
- Focus on feeling your feet and their connection to the ground. “Wiggle your toes and notice what textures you feel. Maybe your socks are on or off. Maybe you feel a rug, or a wooden floor, or grass beneath your feet,” says Rodriguez. “If you’re seated, feel the way your body is making contact with the seat. If standing, notice the space in front and behind you. Feel the temperature of the space around you.”
- Then, pay attention to your breath. As you inhale, raise your arms up to your sides. As you exhale, bring your arms down. “Notice any thoughts that arise. Typically, when we are moving, it’s harder for thoughts to break through. But if there are moments of judgment or questioning, notice that and try to find some self-compassion,” she says.
This form of meditation is easy to do at home, making it a great break from a stressful workday. But a moving meditation can also be a great way to get out of the house. “I teach a lot of walking meditations,” says yoga instructor Claire Baum. “Every time I step out the door to walk my dog, I could be on my phone. Or, I can put my phone away and notice my footfalls, the sensation of my feet meeting the ground, notice the trees in motion, notice the colors I see.” Tune into your breath …….