Many of us are familiar with some benefits of meditation. Psychology Today highlights a few: relieves stress, boosts immune system function, improves ability to focus, helps regulate emotions, improves emotional intelligence and develops mindfulness, and thus peace, in daily life. For those immersed in the busy-ness of American culture, meditation can seem like a daunting task, especially when perceived as sitting still in complete silence. After sitting behind the desk for hours at the office or driving in long commutes, sitting still and quietly may feel slightly unattainable to the chattering mind. How about finding stillness within movement?
There are various ways of tapping into inner calm through motion; Yoga, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Aikido, dance and Soul Movement are just a few. Just as meditation begins with breath awareness, movement meditation is moving to the rhythm of your breath. Soul Movement is spontaneous movement to conscious breath.
Experts in the field of meditation, psychology and mindfulness have written about movement as a means of meditating:
Similarly, Soul Movement uses all the senses to be present and open to flow physically and dynamically with whatever emotions, sensations or thoughts arise in the moment.
Author of The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle, defines meditation as the synchronization of the body and mind:
When the body and mind are in sync, we are naturally relaxed, alert, open, and aware, and we experience ourselves and the world in a direct, unmediated way, without conceptual filters. It is this direct experience of the fullness, vitality, and splendor of life that is the gift of meditation.
Furthermore, Eastern Philosopher Alan Watts explained the parallel between dance and meditation:
When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music, the playing itself is the point. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.
A Loving Dialogue with Your Body…
Beyond practicing being present, moving meditation directs positive awareness to the body parts in motion, like a loving dialogue with your body. Motivational Author of You Can Heal Your Life, Louise Hay, teaches about the connection between mental patterns and physical dis-ease and promotes specific positive affirmations to help heal certain ailments. Stagnant energy or emotional stress can manifest in the body through pain or stiffness. Soul Movement is a means of kindly listening to all of the body, including parts that may feel discomfort, and rather than neglecting, rejecting or avoiding them, we validate the sensations and become curious about their possible revelations of underlying emotional or mental roots or habits of the physical body.
Mindfulness Author Pema Chodron encourages us to lean closer with nonjudgmental openness to what scares us from within, reasoning that “this moving away from comfort and security, this stepping out into what is unknown, uncharted, and shaky—that’s called liberation.”
On freedom and insight through movement, Gabrielle Roth, creator of 5-Rhythms, shared the value of spontaneous freestyle dance:
(It) reveals ways to creatively express aggressiveness and vulnerability, emotions and anxieties, edges and ecstasies (and) initiates us back into the wisdom of our bodies unleashing movement’s dynamic healing power.
Why I Practice Soul Movement
In my personal experience, I have spent many years in dance companies rehearsing and performing choreography created by a director. Although I was often inspired by the dances, my spirit longed to express itself through un-dictated movement outside of the patterns and aesthetic rules engrained in my body through arduous repetition. So, I began to include freeform movement as part of my morning meditation ritual. Over time, it became a sacred prayer of gratitude to honor my body and bow to the Universe that flows through me—and through every being. It became a medium of liberation from my self-judgmental mind that enabled me to free myself from the need to judge others. It became a vessel through which I allowed creativity to flow, brainstorming solutions to daily life challenges by practicing adaptability and referencing intuition, or a deeper knowing, beyond thinking words, as I set my intention for the day. I manifested joy, serenity, courage, confidence and other empowering qualities through the movements I played with. My body, mind and spirit felt freedom through movement.
As the motions subside during my practice, I sit in stillness, equipped with tangible manifestations of how I choose to step into my day ahead and face whatever would present itself along my path. Visionary pioneer of women’s health, Dr. Christiane Northrup, advocates for daily practices of sharpening your intuition as a tool for overall wellness.
A State of Awakened Being
If you’re curious about how Soul Movement could affect your well being, give it a try with an open mind. Be prepared to let go of daily patterns of moving or gripping to explore something new and unpredictable by letting your mind step aside and your intuitive body to express itself as your breath leads. For starters, it’s helpful to have a safe space and an encouraging compassionate facilitator to guide you through.
Life is a daily experiment, and there are no prescriptions for how to handle what lies ahead. However, we can empower ourselves by learning to trust our deeper knowing and living mindfully by transferring our practices of meditation, and nonattachment to the ever-fluctuating mind, into a state of awakened being.
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