Discovering Active Meditation
The world today is busy and fast-paced. Meditation can help to navigate the hectic world, but not everyone has time to sit on their own for 20 minutes a day. Some people find being still for so long to be stress-inducing rather than relaxing. Others want to find peace in the activities they already do and enjoy. Active meditation is a growing area of interest, especially in cultures that already value activity as a good in itself.
What Is Active Meditation?
Active and passive meditation are different sides of the same coin. The difference between the two is that passive meditation is focusing the mind while remaining in a seated or stationary position. Active meditation, as the name suggests, happens while the body is in motion. The practitioner is applying the same practices of awareness and mindfulness during both forms of mindfulness meditation.
The Mental Steps Of Meditation
Focus. The mind focuses on one particular object or aspect, usually breathing and breath. This allows the mind to clear away any superfluous thoughts and have a tangible focal point to return to throughout the practice.
Introspection. Thoughts flow freely in the conscious mind. The mind observes each thought, feeling, memory, passion, and fear from a position of removal and objectivity.
Subconscious Connection. After exploring the conscious realm, the mind is ready to dive into the subconscious. Here the mind taps into energy, knowledge, and connection with self and the world.
Self-Actualization. The mind transcends all levels of consciousness, achieves peace, and feels true bliss.
Practicing Active Meditation
Practicing active meditation promotes mindfulness and awareness in a different way than passive meditation. Moving while in meditation practice pushes the boundaries of what the mind is aware of because the practitioner is no longer in a stationary and quiet room without distractions. By participating in active meditation, the mind and body become one. The motions and activities of active mediation, such as walking, are ones that the body executes without conscious thought. In this way, mind and body are both in meditation.
Steps Of Meditative Walking
Begin by taking a few moments to prepare the mind. Settle the thoughts and let go of any lingering negative emotions or feelings.
Focus on your steps and breath. When the mind wanders, bring it back to the action of each step and breath. Become attuned to the way your foot hits the ground and the time between your strides. Notice the frequency with which air travels in and out of your lungs.
Walk naturally and with good posture. There is a difference between being mindful of your steps and trying to control them. Walk at a normal pace and imagine an invisible line going from your hips up through the top of your head to promote healthy posture.
Begin to match your breathing with your steps. At first it may feel uncomfortable, but with practice you will find a rhythm and a connection within your body.
Be mindful rather than attempting to empty your mind completely. Mindful meditation is about recognizing thoughts and emotions as they arise and then letting them go just as easily.
Set aside time to practice walking meditation during convenient points in the day. For example, walking meditation could be practiced while walking the dog, on the walk to the bus, or during a lunch break.
Active Meditation In Exercise
Applying the same steps used in walking meditation to a regular exercise routine can be very beneficial. Yoga is the most common form of exercise that uses active meditation in practice, but any form of exercise can apply the same principles. Practicing active meditation during exercise has several important benefits.
Active meditation helps to achieve a greater awareness of the body. Mindfulness during exercise can also promote safer exercise habits as the practitioner may be more aware of bodily responses and painful movements. Active meditation also creates a higher awareness of surroundings. The practitioner is better able to react to the temperature, people, and atmosphere of their surrounding during their exercise session with less primacy placed on remaining quiet and stationary. After the session has ended, the practitioner will find that they are more aware of the mental benefits of exercise. They may be able to feel more acutely the release of endorphins in their system and positive emotions post-workout.
Hiking And Nature In Active Meditation
Practicing active meditation during a hike has many additional benefits to walking meditation. The major advantage is a connection to nature. Getting out of cities and into a world of pure growth and life is the best place to practice meditation of any kind. Practitioners will find that their mind quiets and they get a feeling of peace much more seamlessly than in normal surroundings. The practice of mindful meditation will make the practitioner aware of different things than they would be in a city, connecting them to only natural beings and reactions.
The meditation also improves on a hike because of the simple element of fresh air. The heart rate slows and the mind feels sharper just from breathing fresh air, giving the mind and body a more peaceful meditation practice.
On the North Island, Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a good place to practice an active meditation hike. For practitioners on the South Island, Kepler Track is a beautiful scenic hike.
Active Meditation While Traveling
Similar to active meditation in nature, practicing while traveling will allow a practitioner to become aware of sights and details that they would have missed without mindfulness meditation. The acute awareness of surroundings promotes a deeper appreciation of a new place and new people. One of the benefits of traveling is that a practitioner can take in more of their experience and recognize the value of their trip.
Traveling can be stressful and things don’t always go as planned. Practicing meditation during travels can help with letting go of minor mishaps and frustrations. The practitioner often finds they’re more open and easygoing in their travels while using active meditation.
Benefits Of Active Meditation
There are many benefits to practicing active meditation. It allows for increased focus on tasks in day-to-day life. Practitioners become more aware of their body and their surroundings, allowing them to better react to the world in healthy ways. Active meditation is also an effective coping mechanism for anxiety, and a powerful stress management strategy. Active meditation is effective for promoting good mental health.
About The Author: Nicole Clarke works as a media coordinator for Harmony Place, a rehabilitation center dedicated to creating physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. Nicole recognizes the importance of active meditation in support of good mental health and is an active yogi enthusiast.