Meditation in Motion
The medical and psychological benefits of meditation are well-known. Increased focus. Less stress. More self-esteem. Lower blood pressure. A stronger immune system. Sometimes even a sense of unity with all things, even the universe itself. There’s one obstacle to these marvels that every article seems to ignore. Meditation is hard. And it takes a lot of consistent practice over a long period of time before it gets easier.
As a beginner, you’re up against a powerful enemy which happens to reside in you. It’s called the monkey mind, and as the name suggests, it’s not particularly interested in giving you a restful or enlightening experience. Whatever technique you use, be it focusing on your breath or a candle or soothing music, that’s a cue for your monkey mind to spring into action, filling your trying-to-meditate mind with totally irresistible thoughts.
Should you have bought chocolate chip cookies instead of vanilla wafers? Where is your other running shoe? Maybe you should get up and look for it — right now. Add to that all the questions surrounding a wedding: the invitations, the decor, the dress, the bridesmaids, their dresses, what your mother should wear versus what she wants to wear and so forth almost into infinity. It’s a feast for your ravenous monkey mind and it loves to dig right in.
There are ancient disciplines that train the body while taming the monkey mind. One of the most popular is Tai Chi where slow repetitions of graceful motions gradually put the monkey mind to sleep. Bear in mind, however, that the emphasis here is on slow and gradual. You might very well be married, back from your honeymoon and on your way towards having your first child before you experience a state of true meditation.
So step it up a notch. Almost any martial art will do, be it aikido, kendo, karate or a host of others. Each has at its core not a philosophy of aggression, but one of total attention; a focused mind in a state of meditation in full control of a body in motion. Take an introductory class. It’s usually free or should be. (If it’s not, that’s an indication you need to look elsewhere.) Whatever discipline you choose will get your mind off everything except the present moment, guaranteed. Add a weekly class to your daily meditation practice and your monkey mind won’t stand a chance.