Many people think of meditation as sitting quietly and not moving. And, they think they can’t meditate. This article talks about several styles of meditation that are available. One of them most likely fits you!
Meditation is any practice that helps us focus the mind, relax the body and connect to our heart. We use meditation practices to heal, build mana (energy or life force), cultivate kindness and increase awareness.
When imagining someone meditating we often visualize a person sitting upright with their legs crossed in what is called a lotus position. This is a classic sitting meditation practice.
One example of sitting meditation is called Vipassanā. This Buddhist practice starts with “mindfulness of breathing” where the person meditating focuses the mind on the breath. In a ten-day meditation this will be practiced typically for four days.
Then, the practice shifts to focusing the mind on any sensations in the body. The mind scans the outside of the body to start and notices sensation while continuing to scan the body. Through this practice, the invitation is to realize the impermanence of everything – breath, thoughts, body sensations, and the self. The ultimate goal is freedom.
Sitting meditation is wonderful because you can do it anywhere you can sit. I love sitting meditation as a way to achieve mental clarity rather quickly. It is the fastest way I’ve found to release mental chatter and utilize my mind for making clear decisions without worry, questioning or the back and forth “unknowing” of a cluttered mind.
Active meditations involve the motion of the body and attention to that motion. By focusing the mind on the motion and shapes of the body the mind realizes patterns and receives insights that often feed a fuller life.
Examples may include yoga, ecstatic dance and walking meditation. Bradford Keeney describes the Shaking Medicine of the Bushmen of Botswana, Africa in his book Shaking Medicine. He says, “We enter the healing and transformative experiences of the shaking body. Here we find ourselves, maybe for the first time, in the kindergarten of ecstatic wisdom…We experiment with giving up control.”
This type of meditation can be integrated into daily life as any motion, such as eating or walking, can become an active meditation. By focusing our attention on our motion we often experience increased energy in the body, clear thoughts guiding us and balanced emotions flowing from the heart.
Active meditations help me ground, center, flow with life, open, release and express. Generally, they help me be more present in my physical body and express emotions more fluidly (rather than allowing them to get stuck or be repressed). By aligning my thoughts with the body and heart I experience more full and active moments in life where I am thinking, feeling and moving in a connected, graceful way.
Lucid meditations focus the attention on the travels of our consciousness. In western cultures, it is often viewed that the consciousness is inseparable from the physical body. However, shamanic cultures experience the consciousness as able to travel both in and outside of the body.
Examples of lucid meditation include visualization, dreaming and shamanic journeying. A common visualization is to imagine a place in nature that you love and feel at peace in. We can visit this place for restoration, power and relaxation. Similarly, dreams can be experienced as the consciousness traveling while the body and mind sleep. It is common to set an intention for guidance or a healing dream right before going to bed. Shamanic journeys are typically done while our body and mind are physically awake. Drumming, rattling and hallucinogenic plants are often used to inspire the consciousness to travel.
Practicing lucid meditation may be for a variety of purposes such as relaxation, to gain information and for healing. The places we travel to are often beyond the imagination. By being willing to allow the consciousness to travel we may find ourselves journeying to the heart of our body, venturing into the future and meeting our future life partner. Whatever the course, we will find ourselves on the path of our destiny.
As one participant stated:
Julie is an absolutely amazing teacher. I’ve been working with her for over a year. In that year, she’s taught me movement meditation and I’d previously been unable to meditate in any way. She’s also helped me develop spiritually and find my path. (Isabella, 2013-2014)