What exactly is meditation? People usually think it entails sitting still and not thinking. Based on this definition, they think it will be impossible for them! While their perception is correct to some extent, it is also not entirely accurate.
There are many different styles of meditation that utilize varying techniques or approaches such as mantras, visualization, and breathing. Some practitioners even keep their eyes open. While sitting in stillness is common practice, you are bringing focus to your naturally active mind rather than eliminating all thoughts.
Traditionally, meditation is a mental discipline designed to bring you into a state of consciousness and closer to enlightenment, also known as Samadhi.
Sitting in Lotus
Lotus pose, Padmasana, is considered the ideal seated position for meditation. Your feet are placed on opposite thighs with the soles of your feet turned upward and your knees touching the floor. Of course, this is not accessible for most people.
When in lotus, proper posture and correct alignment keeps you alert and increases concentration. Your chakras are aligned, creating a portal for divine energy to flow freely. You can also sit in half-lotus or a simple cross-legged pose, or you can even lie down. Is this sounding a bit more attractive to you?
Meditation can also happen in the form of movement. With walking meditation, you completely immerse yourself in the sounds and sights around you. Or you can practice yoga, tai chi, or hula hooping! There are countless ways to meditate so it’s important not to fall into a dogmatic view of meditation as the act of sitting still.
Yoga and Movement-based Practices
Meditation is about bringing yourself into the present and cultivating self-awareness. Therefore, you can make any of your actions meditative.
One of the major purposes of hatha yoga, the physical branch of yoga, is to limber up the body in order to be able to sit in lotus; at the same time, yogic exercise constitutes a powerful method of mastering the mind. Since a yoga class is a primarily physical experience for most people, it may be difficult for you to grasp that the focus of the mind plays an essential role in this physical practice. When you use your breath to control your mind to control your body, you bring yourself into a moving meditation.
Hula hoopers often consider getting into "the zone," a place where thinking about technique is abandoned and feeling the flow is the focus, as a meditative experience.
Mindfulness in Action
Being mindful of daily activities can also be considered a kind of meditation. This is the yoga of everyday life. Instead of rushing, take your time when you eat. Chew slowly and savour what you are tasting. Pay attention to the rainbow of colours and the array of delightful aromas of your food. When you are in conversation with people, listen attentively and take a moment before you speak.
By being mindful of your actions, you are meditating as you bring yourself fully into the present moment, living your life with conscious awareness. This may not prove to be less challenging than sitting still in lotus, but it presents you with more options to explore meditation.
Lisa Nicole Tai is a Yoga Teacher, Thai Massage Practitioner, Holistic Nutritionist, Writer, and Spoken Word Poet. She believes that by combining and applying the healing and creative arts to her life, she will find fulfillment and contribute to that of others.