Sunday, January 03, 2016

Moving your meditation - exploring meditating while moving

During new year's eve, I attended a Moving Meditation retreat. As a dancer and meditator myself, it was quite interesting to bring those two together. So what is moving meditation? In many forms of meditation you focus on an object, frequently the breath. Moving meditation is similar, but now the object of your focus is the movement. We mostly danced with music, and the "game" was to be aware where in your body a movement arose, to just let it happen, and not lose focus. Whenever you lost focus, you could stand still, observe, and start to move again, with awareness. What I found interesting was that this movement led to a very fluid state. I had practised modern dance techniques before in which you are also taught to let the movement arise from the body, without commentary, everything is good (e.g., movement research by Edan Gorlicki). What was different in this case was the emphasis on awareness--using the movement as an anchor of your attention.

What was also different from previous classes I have done was the use of relational techniques. We spent a decent amount of time dancing together--feeling the movement not just of ourselves but also of the others. It may well be a very interesting way to cultivate empathy and awareness of how we relate to others. I found it also allowed me to develop a sense of non-judgmentalness towards people, because we practiced interacting with other people from within the space of meditation. In this meditation, I could see my reactions and judgments arise, but I was reminded that I could simply let them dissolve again as well.

Now what are the effects of these practices? I think movement meditation is a beautiful way to bring movement into meditation, and meditation into movement. Very useful for those like me, who cannot sit still. it also opened the door for me to bring meditation in other dance I do, like ballet. Such cases are substantially more difficult, because there is a lot more outward focus and direction by others, but it is a nice challenge. More generally, I feel that movement meditation can make it easier to bring the awareness of meditation into daily life because most of our daily life we're not sitting on a cushion, but moving about.
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