Meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in silence.
Physical movement can also bring the mind to a place of stillness—and for some, it’s easier than hours on a cushion. After all, anything that is done with one’s full attention and awareness is meditation: walking, writing, singing, or even playing (yes, playing). Mindful movement is proven to quell our minds and help us access joyful, meditative states.
“Sitting meditation can become physically uncomfortable,” says Satya Greenstone, an Integral Yoga instructor with decades of teaching experience and practice. She pairs her time sitting with “walking meditation,” a practice that spans back thousands of years from the Zen Buddhist traditions.
“The rhythmical movement of walking is an aid to focusing the mind,” she explains. “It is a very peaceful practice.”
Neurologically speaking, movement is extremely calming to the mind. Using it as a means to combat or develop resilience towards anxiety, stress, and depression is now well-documented, and meditative, movement-based activities are now being incorporated into therapy programs across America.
Movement instructor Shakti Sunfire believes that movement, especially in the form of play, can also help one unlock their sense of creativity and emotional freedom.
“Play is like a secret agent,” she says. “It invites us to crack open in disarming, beautiful, and fun-filled ways. Play invites us into the underground river of creativity where we can access new perspectives, new experiences, and expressions of ourselves that we wouldn’t otherwise have accessed.”
When you can really “let go”—allowing yourself to get lost in dance, sports, or movement—you can enter a meditative state that can also be accessed through the practice of dharana, or intentional concentration.
Approaching movement without a goal is the key for reaching such a state.
“Explore movement for the sake of movement, for the inherent joy inside the discovery process,” Sunfire says. “The moment we get out of our way, beautiful things can happen.”