Meditation and the Power of Movement

Meditation and the Power of Movement

Now, you might look at this blog’s title and think that this seems strange. Surely meditation and movement are polar opposites? Well, actually, they’re not. Anything can be meditation, even running around!

If you’ve always imagined meditation to involve sitting as still as possible, letting the cloudy waters of your soul settle, then this idea might need some unpacking. To begin understanding it, we first need to explore the idea of “not-doing” that is found in various Eastern religions, such as Taoism and Zen Buddhism.

Again, it might seem contrary to be talking about movement and not doing things, but not-doing (note the hyphen) is different from not doing something. It’s perhaps best illustrated by thinking of a world-class ballet dancer or piano player — or anyone who has reached the peak of creative physical activity. When you watch or listen to such a person, they seem so natural and effortless, yet you know that years of dedication and training must have gone into what they do.

What has happened is that they have become so at one with the activity that they no longer consciously have to “do” it. If you’ll excuse the poor grammar, they “not-do” it. A piano player does not have to consciously think, “now this chord, now this chord;” an Olympic sprinter does not have to think, “left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot.” Such technical knowledge has been moved to their subconscious, allowing them to transcend it, become lost in the vitality of the movement, and find themselves immersed in the present moment. This is the very essence of meditation.

We may not be a great musician, world-class dancer, or Olympic sprinter, but we don’t need to be to experience this kind of movement-meditation for ourselves. We can experience it when we do the washing up or drive our car. We know how to do these things so well that we often forget we’re doing them, we become lost in thoughts and daydreams instead. But if we bring our conscious attention to whatever physical task we’re doing, not to judge but to become one with it, we can find that meditation-movement that it contains.

Not only does such conscious movement connect us to the beautiful, ever-present now, it is also great for our chakras, those wonderful energy centers that connect us to our deeper selves and the even deeper universe beyond and surrounding us.

Ironically, not-doing is something that can be very hard to master because, by its very nature, it can’t really be controlled by the conscious mind. Because of this conundrum, we might find such moments fleeting at first, but as with the less physical, contemplative forms of meditation, all we can do is keep returning to the present moment, learning to accept what comes and goes without attachment.