What Is Moving Meditation?
When you think about meditation, what comes to mind?
For many, an image of a bearded enlightened being sitting quietly with perfect posture is a common perception. However, some forms of meditation involve movement versus sitting still. Today, we will be focusing on a genre of meditation known as “moving meditation.”
In some circles, “sitting meditation” is considered to be a more disciplined form of meditation because it requires sitting quietly and concentrating on only one thing—usually the breath or a mantra.
Moving meditation is excellent for those that feel they have “tried and failed” or didn’t get what they wanted out of sitting practice. Many people who have attempted sitting meditation find that moving meditation is easier and more natural.
In this day and age, it’s hard for most people to sit still for too long, let alone in silence. Finding a place to do this can be problematic in the business world, especially with all that goes on in a business day.
Sitting meditation requires that you focus only on your breath and posture; moving meditation allows you to focus on your breathing and movements. It can be as simple as a yoga pose, a quick walk around your office, or dancing to a relaxing beat.
This post will explore six ways you can incorporate moving meditation into your life and each with its unique method of using meditation. The suggestions here will help you to relieve stress, increase productivity, and get more sleep. Let’s get started.
Yoga can be traced back to over 5,000 years ago (though some scholars place that at more than 10,000 years). It first came to the United States in the late 1800s by a man named Swami Vivekananda.
According to Gaiam.com, there are eight significant styles of yoga: Anusara, Ashtanga, Hatha, Hot Yoga, Iyengar, Restorative, Vinyasa, and Bikram. Don’t let the names intimidate you. Each has its own unique set of poses and focuses.
For instance, hot yoga is an interesting practice because it involves being exposed to high temperatures (usually around 105 degrees) while doing the traditional yoga practice, generally followed by a calming mediation relaxation session. The high temps allow you to sweat out any toxins in your body while also helping to shed unwanted water weight.
On the other hand, restorative yoga focuses on only five or six poses, and props support you to relax your body. Each pose is held for five minutes or more, and with the help of the props to support you, you don’t strain your body during that length of time. Restorative yoga is great if you have high blood pressure.
Anusara (flowing with grace) promotes personal growth and transformation. Through a community setting, movement, meditation, breathing, and Tantric philosophy, Anusara puts inline your mind, body, and heart. This allows you to connect to yourself on a deeper level. It supports its practitioner’s journey of self-discovery and creativity.
The Yoga Journal points out that the most basic pose to get started with is the Mountain Pose, which is the basis for all the standing poses. Another popular pose is Downward Facing Dog.
How do you do it?
There are many ways you can incorporate yoga into your daily lifestyle. And the best part is that it requires little equipment. All you need is a yoga mat and some loose-fitting clothing. A towel to wipe down your mat with at the end of each practice is also recommended. You don’t even need a mat, just a comfortable floor space to practice in some cases. You can also purchase things to help you with your stretches initially, but it’s not a requirement to get started.
If you want to get started and don’t want to hit up your local class, check out the Yoga with Adriene. With over five million subscribers, you can bet her videos are full of information and practice for you to watch at home or on your mobile device.
Another fun and exciting way to do yoga is through a video game. Wii Fit Plus has a unique yoga section lead by an instructor of your choice. XBOX 360 also has Your Shape Fitness Evolved, which even dives into Tai Chi (we will talk about that in a little bit). According to DigitalTrends.com, a new exercise game is coming to the Nintendo Switch to incorporate yoga. Fun right?
Yoga has become increasingly popular, so chances are there is at least one yoga studio or exercise gym that offers yoga classes within your area. The average class can last up to one and a half hours.
According to the American Osteopathic Association, there are many benefits to yoga for physical and mental wellbeing. Yoga can help relieve stress and chronic pain, headaches, anxiety, lower blood pressure, improve productivity, and help with insomnia.
The way it improves your productivity is by increasing your energy, according to Business.com. The act of getting up and doing basic stretching found in yoga for even 30 minutes increases your blood circulation and helps boost and alleviate mental fatigue.
By silencing your mind and focusing on the poses, you clear your mind of the mental mess you accumulate throughout the day and become more mindful and alert. Bonus! It makes you feel good, which leads to a better mood, which is also a player in productivity.
2. Walking Meditation
We spend hours a day just wandering around in our bodies without any mindfulness of what is really going on. We are on autopilot for a great deal of our day. Walking meditation breaks that cruise control mode.
Walking meditation is probably the easiest method of moving meditation on this list. You don’t need any special equipment to do it, and you can do it anywhere and at any time. A quick walk to the water cooler can be a walking meditation experience. Walking around your house as you clean can be a walking meditation experience. See what I’m getting at here? You already walk to and from places; why not make it a meditative experience at the same time?
Many people find walking meditation easier than sitting meditation because it’s easier to focus on your body while it’s in movement. It’s also a great beginner meditation form that anyone at any age can do.
How do you do it?
The idea is simple. Pick a place that is without obstacles, light or no traffic, and ideally peaceful. As you walk, you coordinate your breathing with each step you take, keeping in mind that your breathing should be done through the nose. Your pace should be steady but maybe a little slower than your usual speed. Inhale on one step and exhale on the next step.
Please keep your thoughts on how your foot feels as it touches the Earth. Does it feel soft, hard? What about when you lift your foot and put down the next step? Make each step deliberate. If you can find a path or a labyrinth to walk, that will also help increase your focus because you will focus on following the path along with your breath.
Another thing to consider with walking meditation is how your body feels as you move. Your arms, legs, face, etc. Do you feel a breeze? How about the cold/warmth of the temperature where you are?
Walking meditation is best suited for doing for at least 10 minutes at a time to reap the benefits. You can build up from there, but 10 minutes is the recommended starting point. If you want to bring a friend along, that’s great, but agree in the beginning that you are meditating and there should be no conversation or that defeats the purpose of the practice.
One thing a lot of people are worried about when meditating is intrusive thoughts. When a thought enters your mind, don’t trace it to its conclusion. Instead, simply notice it, accept it, and then release it. Now, refocus on the mechanics of walking and your breath. Refrain from beating yourself up because it’s common and not something to fret about. Remember, the point of meditation is not to avoid all thoughts. Just be as fully present as possible.
If it helps, try saying a mantra or “Om” while walking. This will help keep those intrusive thoughts at bay. You can also create your mantra from a positive affirmation. Shorter affirmations work best. For example, “I am that I am.” Or “My heart will guide me.” If you are religious, find something in your religion that is short and to the point that you can focus on.
Berkeley Education has a great breakdown of how to have an excellent walking meditation session properly. Their tips include finding a lane that you can walk back and forth in for 10 to 15 paces. And to remember the goal is not to reach a specific destination but to practice an intentional walking pace. Another tip they offer is to walk 10 to 15 steps and then stop for a breath, then turn around and do another 10 to 15 steps.
According to Best Health magazine, the benefits of walking meditation are the same as with regular walking but with the added mental benefits of the mediation aspect. Weight loss, lower chance of heart-related disease, increased oxygen intake, reduced stress, reduced anxiety, increased creativity, to name a few.
3. Tai Chi
Tai Chi means “Grand Ultimate” in Chinese and focuses on aligning the energy in the body with the mind. It was developed thousands of years ago by Chinese monks and is considered a branch of Chinese martial arts. It’s based on the ancient Chinese philosophy of Taoism. Taoism stresses the natural balance in all things and is based on the writings of Lao-tzu. Taoism became the official religion of China under the Tang Dynasty, which makes it both a philosophy and a religion, according to Ancient History Encyclopedia.
It’s recently become popular because it’s a low-energy form of exercise. Watching it, it kind of looks like slow-motion dancing and martial arts combined. The idea is you focus on the steady movement along with your breathing.
There are many styles, but the four major ones are Chen, Yang, Wu, and Wu (two different Chinese languages). As taught by the Tai Chi for Health Institute, the basic principles of Tai Chi include control of your movements and breathing, mindfulness, generating internal energy, and song (loosening in Chinese), and jing (serenity). Another variation on Tai Chi is Walking Tai Chi, which is basically your Tai Chi practice while walking in a specific manner.
According to the Tai Chi Foundation, Tai Chi focuses on softness and awareness instead of force and resistance. Because it’s low impact and puts very little strain on the muscles, this is a great meditation practice for all ages. It also requires no special equipment! Just some comfy clothes, and you are good to go.
The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi says that “Time spent practicing Tai Chi makes your time at work more focused and creative, helps you manage stress, makes your interactions with coworkers more efficient and gives you the energy to work longer more productive hours…”
How do you do it?
Tai Chi is practiced at a slow and deliberate pace. You can watch YouTuber Leia on her channel Taiflow for a good introduction to the practice. With over 58,000 subscribers, you know you can trust her to teach you the proper posture and movements.
You can also look up a class in your area and learn from an instructor who can better help you in person with correct posture and movement. You can expect to spend anywhere from $25 to $125 per class, depending on the location and instructor.
A good idea might be to start with a class or two to get the basics down and then move on to your practice watching online videos.
Since Tai Chi requires no equipment, it makes it a perfect moving meditation that can be done anywhere you have space. It would be best to aim for a session that lasts between half an hour to an hour in length.
The Mayo Clinic states that Tai Chi is a gentle way to fight stress. It helps to reduce anxiety as well as increases flexibility and balance. The Tai Chi Foundation points out that more benefits of Tai Chi include calming emotions, better posture, focusing the mind, and strengthening the immune system. Other benefits include taking the inner strength and converting it to internal force and using that to generate more internal energy. More energy translates into better productivity. And because Tai Chi targets stress relief, you can bet you will sleep better for it as well.
Qigong (pronounced chee-gun) is the practice of bringing your mind, body, and spirit together. Through a system of breathing, body movements, and concentration, you can get improved health, focus, and stress relief. This is an excellent alternative to sitting meditation because it focuses on relieving pain rather than causing it (like some people have experienced with sitting meditation).
At first, this may look like Tai Chi, including the fact that they both require slow movements and focusing on your breath, but methods are quite different. In Tai Chi, you focus on one set of movements. In Qigong, you can think a little outside the box.
The primary focus when you first start Qigong is to concentrate on letting go. Conscious Lifestyle Magazine believes that “most imbalance comes from holding on to too much for too long.”
How do you do it?
There are two parts to Qigong; the internal part and the external part. The internal portion is the more personal part where you internally harness your energy and send it inwards toward the body to increase its healing and function.
This practice is typically done standing up, but you can do any position in a sitting or lying down position. It’s kind of a bonus for those that don’t want to do this standing up. For those who enjoy walking, the Five Seasons Medicine website gives another variation of Qigong known as Walking Qigong.
Livescience.com lists one of the most basic of Qigong as Baduanjin Qigong and involves eight movements.
A good place to start on your Qigong journey is to check out YouTuber Mimi-Kuo-Deemer. With over 37,000 subscribers and a dozen videos, she has something for everyone and all levels of practice. She also sells her tutorials on DVD on Amazon for a relatively reasonable price of $28 for a two-disk set. If you are looking for more personal practice, look up classes at your local gym or community center.
The benefits of Qigong include improved heart function, strengthening of internal organs and nerves, and improved circulation. Qigong also helps reduce injury to joints, ligaments, and bones by building up their strength and teaching you to relax your joints without locking them up during a fall.
Energyarts.com has compared it to doing gentle stretching and acupuncture at the same time. If you have asthma, you’re in luck; according to the Mindvalley.com blog, China and the United States have acknowledged the benefits of Qigong in the relief of asthma, cancer, arthritis, heart disease, fatigue, headaches, and chronic pain. Less fatigue means more productivity!
5. Dance Meditation
Dancing meditation can be quiet and meditative or hyper with the rhythm and almost trance-inducing. It’s a practice that can be done solo or have you interact with other people in a community setting. Some methods do it blindfolded, while others let you keep your eyes open.
Dance meditation puts you in a place of concentration on each step you take and each movement so much that you don’t have much time to think of something else if you want to keep up. You are in the present moment with your body when dancing. You are aware of what your feet are doing, where your arms are going, and what you are looking at. In short, you are in tune with your body.
Dance meditation has some of its roots in Native American traditions. Shamans had rhythmic movements to mimic plants and animals to obtain a deeper connection to nature. Shamans would dance into almost a trance-like state to help manifest their desires ranging from good health to better weather for their crops.
How do you do it?
For some, dance meditation is achieved through tap dance, hip-hop, and ballet. In contrast, others prefer a more religious or spiritual dance meditation practice. Some classes encourage yelling and jumping around to release energy. Because of the aerobic component of this type of moving meditation, it’s probably the most vigorous of the moving meditation types on this list. It’s important to wear loose-fitting clothes that allow you to move and bend freely.
According to Wellandgood.com, a newer dance meditation variation is Ecstatic dance. This is a community-involved form of dance, which involves electronic music with maybe some jungle beats mixed in and free movement. It’s not uncommon to feel a high off this kind of dance because of the rush of endorphins. Dance ceremonies can be held in yoga studios, auditoriums, or anywhere really that the instructor desires.
Another new age dance practice that is slowly becoming popular is 5Rythms. Over on 5rhythms.com, we learn that Gabrielle Roth created this form of dance in the late 1970s, and this type of dance meditation draws from world traditions. It involves five basic rhythms: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical, and Stillness. A typical class takes around an hour to complete.
The best part of it is you can choose the type of dance that fits your lifestyle and health. You can do slow tribal dance like that of the Native Americans, or you can tap dance your way across the floor like Gene Kelly.
Dance meditation has many benefits, including increased energy, reduced stress, improved self-confidence, increased metabolism, weight loss, deepened self-awareness, and enhanced coordination.
6. Dynamic Meditation
First created by an Indian guru by the name of Osho (also known as Madhya Guru Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh), Dynamic Meditation is a full-body release that involves sporadic and spontaneous movements and noises. Dynamic Meditation was created in the 1970s and is considered an active form of meditation. The aim is to bring more alertness and purify your body of otherwise toxic pent-up emotions. It’s suggested that you do this meditation early in the morning, and all five stages combined take about an hour to complete.
Dynamic Meditation stands out because it combines expression with movement, relaxation, balance, and a touch of fun.
How do you do it?
It’s best to do this form of meditation on an empty stomach and blindfolded.
Oshodynamic.com teaches us that there are five stages of dynamic meditation. The first step (10 minutes) is to do some quick and chaotic breathing. The second step (10 minutes) is to let every emotion out like a child having a fit. Do anything that expresses and helps you to release what you are feeling inside, whether that be anger, sadness, happiness, or any other emotion. The third step (10 minutes) involves jumping up and down while breathing the mantra, “Hoo!” at a continuous pace. The fourth step (15 minutes) is to stop where you are and freeze your body. You should use this time to take note of how your body feels. Finally, the fifth step (15 minutes) is to celebrate your meditation through dance.
The one downside to dynamic meditation is there are not a lot of places that practice it. If this interests you, YouTube will be your best friend for learning this method of moving meditation. It does seem to be growing in popularity in the Western United States.
Topfitnessmag.com teaches us that the benefits of dynamic meditation include reduced stress, burning calories, boost your immune system, helps with heart health, and improved focus and productivity by providing you with more energy.
In summary, meditation doesn’t have to be boring or slow. Moving meditation is a great type of meditation for those that have tried sitting meditation methods and “failed” or didn’t get what they wanted out of them or flat out found it enjoyable. By moving around and paying attention to your body’s movements, you get to increase your blood flow from sitting at a desk all day and get a calmer sense of being from the meditation.
Walking meditation is a good beginner introduction to meditation that anyone can do on a break and requires no equipment. A walk to the bathroom can be a meditative experience just as much as a walk in the park. And you can do it with friends or by yourself.
Yoga can be done in a class environment or done by watching streaming videos while at the location of your choice. With just a mat and some comfy clothes, you are all set. And with so many options to choose from, there is one for any lifestyle and health level.
Tai Chi dives into a more deliberate and slow-paced movement that any age can get started by taking a class for the proper technique or watching online videos. It’s great for those that cannot take the more aerobic style of movement meditation and want something slower-paced.
Qigong brings the mind, body, and spirit together in a Tai Chi-like way but with its own set of specific movements. Like Tai Chi, there is no equipment necessary, and all ages can reap the benefits of its practice.
Dance Meditation is the most active moving of the options mentioned on this list and has a wide variety of dance types that you can try. Depending on the method of dance you choose, from tap to tribal to ballet, you will require different shoes or equipment to get started, but you will reap the same benefits of weight loss, increased energy, and productivity as a result.
Dynamic Meditation lets you cut it all loose and let it all go. It permits you to revisit that three-year-old self inside and have that tantrum or throw that fit if that is how you are feeling. The result is a new sense of calm and relaxation because of letting go of all the pent-up energy you had inside.
Sitting meditation is just not for everyone. It can be uncomfortable, hard to get situated, focused, and to top it off; you need a quiet place to do it. That’s what makes movement meditation so appealing. You can move around while still getting the benefits of the meditation process.
No matter your lifestyle, there’s a moving meditation practice that is right for you. Moving Meditation is excellent for anyone who has tried sitting Meditation and felt uncomfortable or “failed” at his or her practice. Bonus! All of the types on this list help improve productivity through increased energy, and increased productivity means better workers and a healthier work environment.