Meditation is the bee’s knees. Everyone from Jerry Seinfeld to Arianna Huffington take advantage of its benefits – lowering stress, improving physical health and heightening both cognitive functioning and creativity, to name just a few. It’s helped me so much in my life that I’ve become totally obsessed. But, sometimes I hate it…..
Sometimes it’s so hard to sit still. Sometimes my back aches, my legs spasm and I’ve got an itch on my butt that I just really want to scratch.
All of that’s OK in meditation. I keep telling myself this. I just have to watch those feelings and thoughts and not judge them, or the meditation. But sometimes that just feels hard, and though I try to accept my discomfort and refocus on my breathing, I just want to, well, move.
For a long time I thought meditation meant you had to sit still. In Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love she describes sitting for hours. Man, I could never do that. It really intimidated me.
Recently, however, I’ve discovered that there are a lot of meditations you can do with movement. Whhaaaat? You can move?
Mindfulness is paying attention in the present moment without judgement. One of the ways of doing this is with sitting meditation, but there is also mindful walking and mindful yoga. Essentially, these are about paying attention to the movement of your body to anchor yourself to the present moment.
They are very useful in bringing your focus out of thinking mode and into sensing mode. They both help to pay attention to the sensations of the body as it moves and enable practice in acceptance as you explore your body’s limitations.
When you begin to attune to your body, it becomes easier to identify feelings, emotions and stresses and notice where they appear in the body.
You can practice mindful yoga in almost any yoga technique, but it is probably best suited to Hatha yoga. Jon Kabat Zinn has two beautiful Mindful Yoga audio sessions on his album Guided Mindfulness at https://itunes.apple.com/au/album/guided-mindfulness-meditation/id721906378
You can try mindful walking almost anywhere, though you may want to do it in private, as it can look a little strange. It’s basically just walking really slowly and paying attention to the sensations of your body as you walk – feeling your foot as you move it and as you lift the opposite leg and place that back down.
If all else fails, and you’re just finding the whole thing difficult, you can get started on some yoga by watching this clip of some “angry yoga”. Have a laugh and just pay attention to how good that feels:
And here are some great yoga poses to try to mindfully: