How to Meditate while Being Active

Photo by Pink Sherbet

When we hear about meditation most of us think of a person sitting down in a traditional meditative posture such as the half lotus position with a straight back, closed eyes and a very still body.

Of course the above picture is a very common one and it is a correct one too. This is one of the best ways to meditate and still the mind – with a still body and a quiet mind in a tranquil ambience. But this is not the only way to meditate either. In fact the concept of meditation can be practically stretched to include other forms which do not involve a sitting still posture.

Some meditations are done when the body is active such as when walking or doing some physical activity. In Zen Buddhism, walking meditation is a well known and established form of meditation.

Is it possible to meditate while walking, running or being active?

Yes it is. Meditation is not about switching off your mind but about switching it on. It is about opening up your awareness to your surroundings and inner body. It is about tuning in to the present moment and living the freshness of it instead of blurring in to hazy thoughts and daydreaming.

So it is possible to be more mindful and aware while walking, cycling or running because your mind becomes engaged in the awareness of the surroundings. The body would be moving but the mind would be defragmenting and settling into stillness.

How to do meditation while active?

There are many different ways to do active meditation but all methods depends on directing your awareness into the activity you are doing irrespective of what that activity is. It is about opening up your perceptual awareness and letting your mind flow in sync with your activity.

Here are a few tips to practice mindfulness meditation while in activity:

1. Before engaging the activity stop for a few minutes to prepare your mind on the objectives you want to reach. This is like affirming to your self what you want to achieve. This is an important step for it directs your mind to stay on that track instead of wandering about distractively. I call it the warming up of the mind. Before we start a physical activity or sport we stretch our muscles and warm up our bodies. Same thing with the mind.

2. When you start the activity take some time to direct you awareness to your body. How does your body feel in general? Are your energy levels high or low? How do your muscles feel? Is your breathing deep or shallow? How do your feet feel? What is your general mood? Are you feeling any subtle energies changing in yourself as you do the activity?

3. Now turn your attention to your surroundings. If for example you are walking, enlarge your observation window to include those details that usually go by unnoticed. Patterns in buildings and stone, colors, shapes, sights, smells and sounds. This is mindfulness meditation in action. Your perceptual awareness expands until your mind opens up to a new dimension and everything becomes alive.

4. When your activity is over, take some time to observe how your mind feels different now. Are you more relaxed and focused? Are your thoughts more coherent? Is your general state of being more peaceful and calm? This exercise is important to extend your awareness also into the benefits of the meditation itself so that it becomes reinforced into our mind.

Category: AwarenessMindfulness

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21 comments

  1. My Favourite active meditation by far is the walking meditation, presence in every step. As always Ross thanks.

  2. Wilma thanks for your fantastic comment. I totally share your feelings. Doing a handicraft for example is a very fine way to be mindful of the texture and material you are working with as you said. Thanks for sharing this.

  3. I love the fact that mediation is not sitting still. I love meditating while doing things and really being present to your senses.
    I love it when I am swimming in the sea and totally give over to the experience.
    That invigorates me and does leave me clear headed and peaceful.
    I love doing things with my hands and feel the texture of the material I am working with.
    I do not want to sit down, I want to experience fully what I am doing as a meditation practice and thanks for confirming this for me.
    .-= Wilma Ham´s last blog ..Learning to observe my Little Voice, my ego. =-.

  4. thanks Paul! A truly helpful comment. Yes I totally agree – focusing the awareness on the feet while running is a very good start to practicing mindfulness in general while also practicing mindful running at the same time. Highly recommendable.

  5. Hi Gilbert,

    I very much enjoyed your post on mindfulness during running. I thought it was very helpful to sum up some of the key elements allowing someone to get into the moment. Thanks for sharing that! I find that practicing active meditation can not only make the activity easier, but it can also make a long run a lot of FUN. It is truly a great way to connect with the world.

    One point of awareness for people new to this practice is to focus on their feet. I find that focusing on how the foot strikes the earth can be a very useful way to start to train. Much like following the breath in Zazen, I have found this can be a very good way to practice mindfulness while at the same time it may help runners improve their efficiency. This can be a narrow focus on the specifics of the foot to begin with and then broadened out to the entire body. So as to focus on the entire process involved in getting the foot to the ground to continue momentum.

    All the best,

    Paul
    .-= Paul MacKenzie´s last blog ..Maryland Zoo partners with the B&O Railroad, Maryland Science Center, and Port Discovery for the Months of January and February. =-.

  6. Hi Roseanna,

    Thanks for stopping by. It’s true the easiness of meditation totally evades us sometimes that is why some people are scared off. One of my dreams is to one day see meditation becoming a very common practice in the western world at least within my lifetime.

  7. Excellent post; very helpful. Many people are afraid of meditation, many think it is the sitting that is important, many chase special states, and many are quite attached to it.

    I don’t sit-down-meditate any more, I’ve found it more useful to be in a state of awareness all day long. As you point out, we can expand awareness by simple observing thought, observing the voice of thinking, observing the inner body, observing our inner experience.

    k
    .-= Kaushik´s last blog ..Allowing the Disturbing States =-.

  8. I don’t think people realize how easy and natural it is to meditate. Your article eloquently raises our awareness of this.

  9. Hi Archan,

    Thanks a lot for your kind words and excellent comment. Your description of a meditation in action is absolutely great! I couldn’t have said it better myself.
    Thanks for stopping by and thanks for adding value to my article with your fantastic comment.

  10. Hi Wilson,

    I am also extremely delighted to have you on our team at Lifescape Artists! Thanks for stopping by!

  11. Hey Gilbert:

    This is an excellent post. Insightful. And you have a wonderful blog. Congratulations! I enjoy reading…

    I find early morning walks are a great place to start–the most refreshing time of day. People are asleep; no vehicles anywhere to be seen. As a result, less noise, chaos and pollution to deal with.

    Walk is a pejorative: I would rather use the expression, “going for a casual stroll.” To me, that’s a meditation.

    You are able to listen to the chirping of the birds. You are sensitive to dusk turning into dawn and breaking out into sunlight. There is a melody in the winds: you can listen to it whisper in your ear. Listen to the wisdom inherent in your body as your arms and legs move to and fro, each muscle straining like an invisible space between the notes of life. This is meditation in action, even while you are active. Walking meditation.

    The stereotype of meditation is that of a man gazing at his navel in a lotus posture. Your article, by questioning this assumption, is accurate and valid. It is a good contribution for your readers, especially the newbies among us.

  12. Good stuff!! I really like this post a lot, especially how you break down the exercise down thats really going to help me next time while I am writing. By the way glad to be part of the team at lifescapeartists.com

  13. Very nice. I have always thought the same, meditation being about switching on the mind. I often practice my form of meditation while driving to and from work. Taking time to think or ponder on various topics.
    .-= Eric | Eden Journal´s last blog ..Life is a great big video game =-.

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Article by: Gilbert Ross