Sitting? Breathing? Staying still? No thanks. When it comes to the practice of meditation, this is a thought process many people have. If this is your thought when it comes to meditation you aren’t alone. You also aren’t in the wrong. Many people feel this way about the practice of meditation. They are uncomfortable sitting, with their eyes closed, breathing, trying to empty their mind. Thankfully, this isn’t all that meditation is.
Unfortunately, many people are under the misconception that this is what meditation is. Meditation is any kind of practice which draws the attention inward, thinking deep thoughts, in some kind of silence. Meditation doesn’t have to be silent, however. Music can be meditation. Conversations can be meditation. Going to a show can be meditation.
The reason anything can be meditation is because anything can be done mindfully. Mindfulness is a core component of meditation and is a separate practice from meditation. Anything done mindfully can be done in a meditative state. Mindfulness simply means focusing, paying attention, and being aware. Mindful meditation means bringing the focus inward to become aware of the self. This doesn’t require sitting and thinking or not thinking. If sitting meditation doesn’t sound like your thing, it doesn’t have to be.
Any number of activities can be a mindful meditation. Running, hiking, climbing, swimming, dancing, working out, journaling, walking, cooking, and eating, are all ways people find a focus. Meditation in activity is not about the activity itself but the approach to the activity. Getting active in meditation is directly about not being inactive during meditation. Approaching activities from a meditative, mindful state requires approaching an activity with willingness and curiosity. You have to become willing to be mindful in the moment and be curious about the experience. Staying closed minded will inhibit your practice of meditation.
Here are some other tips for practicing meditation actively:
Dedicate the time of your physical activity to being mindful
Keep a focus on your breath while you are being physically active
When you get distracted with other thoughts, bring your awareness back to the breath
In the space of your breath, notice what comes up to your attention in physical experience and mental experience
After your physical activity, see if the application of a mindful meditation caused any changes. Did you perform better? Were you more aware? Do you feel more relaxed?
See if you can translate that meditative state throughout the day. Instead of a focused activity, see if all activity could become a meditative focus.