Mindfulness Through Movement
How the east got this part of the game right!
Meditation has been widely accepted as a great form of mental training. It is said to calm the nerves, stave off anxiety as well as even help restructure or “strengthen” certain aspects of the brain.
Now there are so many different styles of meditation training that involve concerted effort on focusing on a single thing. Breathe for example.
Living in 2017 you are being bombarded by information via multiple streams, instagram, facebook, television, school and so on. It is important to take the time to sift through all the “garbage” and limit the amount of time and space these things take in your head. Sometimes it is almost impossible
What is mediation through movement?
Enter meditation. We will go over the most commonly used meditation (static mindfulness) in a later article. I however want to explore a “new” way of meditation that involves movement but movement that is methodical in nature. (requires very little strength and more concentration.)
I like to call this Kinetic Meditation. It is simply when you’re doing a movement typically repetitive and focusing all your attention there. There should be little strength involved in it, when you start using your strength you are then diving into something different. These movements require you to pay close attention to the movement itself as opposed to the lactic acid that may or may not be building up. This is a practice of bringing your mind back to the task at hand if your mind wanders off.
Why western physical culture is not ideal?
Many movements in physical culture at least in the western corners of the world are not fitting to be used during this style of meditation outside of running or steady state cardio such as riding a bike. But since I am talking about loaded movement they do not count to what I am trying to get at.
In this side of the world training is predominantly composed of heavy lifting, hypertrophy, “crossfit” or function training and the combination of meditation is generally only included with yoga etc.
I will make an exception. In recent years the introduction of the mace and other eastern tools has reignited some forms or warrior training that could be equated to tai chi with a mace. It is really a sight to be seen in my opinion.
How the East got this right!
Eastern physical culture however invites loaded movements into their everyday meditation practices. India and the middle eastern country used tools such as Indian clubs, gada’s, meels, and jori’s as both a means of physical training but as well as a form of mediation through movement.
Another great example is how Shaolin monks directly incorporate their forms of meditation into performing some of the most awe striking spectacles using a variety of culturally relevant tools, again through movement.
All of this isn’t to say however those western forms of training can’t also incorporate some form of meditative properties it is just however more dangerous considering the effectiveness the load may have to be etc. This is way I feel it may be important to welcome eastern styles of training into our current training as both a supplement as well as main portion of our training routines.
The specifics of each eastern training style are not really of importance here. We go deeper in to some of the forms of training listed prior and even how to go about making some of these tools on your own in this article (add link) but what we are more concerned with here is how to begin a meditative practice using loaded movement.
Aim of focus
The aim of focus in any meditation is to keep your mind centered on a single effort at a time. In traditional meditation it would be the focusing on each breathe. In the meditation of movement it does not change. There is however the syncretic nature on movement thrown in. It is a challenge, that there is no doubt and it takes a much more concerted effort on the practitioner to coordinate both breathe with movement without allowing the mind to move away from them.
However it is important to know that if your concentration is lost it is okay. Simply allow yourself to come back to the breathe and the movements. It is important that this become a practice within the practice. Bring the mind back to one focus. Now that there is movement involved we have to learn to become so good at the practice of movement that it becomes second nature. That way the breathe will be the single focal point.
Yes it is difficult, do it anyways!
This style of meditation is far away from what many would call traditional practice. However to put it simply it is fun and should be done on a daily basis. It is a simple concept to follow that takes years and years to learn to begin to master. I am not even close to mastering any of it but the process is what matters.
You are going to hit points where you are not seeing any returns from it and you may want to quit or move on to something “more Productive.” Well that would of course be your choice but I would advise that you continue with it. Reap the benefits of a calm mind and a ready body. Kill two birds with one stone as the saying goes.
This is not a practice that I myself have being doing for years. I have been mindfully meditating for years but only recently have used indian clubs, maces, and meels to meditate. I do however understand and connect with the basics of this practice and understand that it is something that takes a great deal of time to sculpt and is virtually never going to be “perfect”
I am confessing and being brutally honest because I am not going to come off as a extraordinarily practiced individual when it comes to kinetic meditation. I am simply give a brief background on the insights behind it and a few simple ways to get started!
It is important to take the basics of mindfulness and apply them to movements that are cyclical in nature that have some load (as light as possible in these cases) That can be mastered in order to allow for the focus to be purely on breathing. Now that we have gone over the basics we can now move on to the details and ins/outs!