Meditation in Motion

flower-floral-blossom-natureWe sit down to meditate, or we go to yoga class. We reach a state of bliss and ecstasy…OK, maybe not. Maybe there is an experience of bliss, maybe deep peace or at least a sense of relaxation. Maybe we feel renewed, and we hope that nothing can touch the way we feel, because it is too good. And when that happens we may think that this time we have things figured out. Instead we stand up, go into the next room and get in a fight with our partner. Or we yell at the kids. Or we’re driving home from the yoga studio, and we get angry at the driver next to us. Why does this happen? Isn’t the whole point of mind-body practices so that we can be done with unsavory feelings? Well, maybe you didn’t read the fine print when you signed up…

It is a misunderstanding to think that meditation is about disconnecting from ourselves or our uncomfortable feelings. It certainly is possible to disconnect. The many people who do may have been on a path of disconnection for years in an effort to avoid one type of experienced pain or another, such as physical pain or emotional trauma, and for very good reasons at the time. What we as teachers are asking you to do, in meditation sessions or yoga classes, is to approach these patterns of disconnection in a new way: we ask you to be with whatever sensations you’re experiencing in your body, with whatever emotions may be arising, with whatever multitude of thoughts may be striving for your attention, and to practice observing those sensations, emotions, and thoughts from a more neutral perspective.

The issue is this:  it is possible to practice regularly, and even so, forget what we were practicing once we leave the yoga mat or meditation cushion. I often tell my students and clients that we are exercising our meditation muscle, and there is absolute truth to that, backed up by research. However, we do have some personal responsibility to practice mindfulness when we walk out the door so that we can continue to exercise those muscles throughout the day. For example, you may work out, or go for a run, but you don’t go back to bed for the remaining hours of the day. You still remain active, using different muscles in your body, even if much of your day is spent seated. In the case of our practices of meditation or asana, for a concentrated period of time we strengthen our mindfulness muscles, but when we get up, we must still remember the practice.

Recently I had a sense that I needed to make the phrase “meditation in motion” my mantra. Now, when some hear this phrase, they think of yoga asana class – the poses that everyone knows is yoga. Many consider taking part in a yoga class to be mindfulness or meditation in motion. In my case, I knew this mantra meant more to me – it meant meditation in motion as I go through my day. So, when I rolled over in bed to see what time it was in the morning, I thought, “meditation in motion.” When I brushed my teeth, “meditation in motion.” When I got a plate of food, “meditation in motion.” No, I wasn’t sitting and closing my eyes or doing yoga poses. I was dropping into the present moment; I was life meeting life in this moment. I was finding Presence in each moment. I was remembering, instead of forgetting.

When I chose “meditation in motion” as my mantra, it was because I wanted a reminder that every minute of every day I have the option to be present with everything that is arising. I have the choice to not be distracted. Ultimately, I have the ability to be responsible for where my focus is in every moment. I used this mantra every time I thought of it -- every time I remembered. When I did, I felt it viscerally each time I would repeat it in my mind. I immediately felt a sense of Presence-- an experience of being present, here and now. I felt the flow and movement of breath; I felt fully alive.

We choose our meditation practices so that what we practice will spill into the other parts of our lives, when we are engaged in the world at large. We so often forget this, even within minutes of getting up from meditating or walking out of the yoga studio. We become lost in the moment, rather than mindful of it, when we are faced with all the distractions and annoyances of our daily lives. When challenges arise, it is often hard to remember that no matter what we are experiencing, we always retain our choice in how we respond to it. When I remember that I can respond by being present, instead of being distracted, everything shifts to an experience of trusting what is, no matter how it shows up in my life.

Reiki8Stephanie is a meditation teacher, mentor and coach. Thanks to UZIT™ training and other trainings, as well as many years of exploration in Eastern practices, she relies on a variety of self-care practices and practitioners to nourish her body and being. Yet, beneath it all, her meditation practice is the foundation. For more information, you can find her here.

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