I am a mover. Insights often come to me when I’m moving—walking, talking, showering, even washing dishes. Movement connects me to my s/Self in profound ways. Although I relish the simplicity of witnessing my thoughts, emotions, body, and breath from a place of internal stillness, meditation practices I grew up with all focused on external stillness, which sometimes feels oppressive to me.
This tension between stillness and movement made my quest for a regular meditation practice a struggle for most of my adult life. You see, I’d bought into a story that sitting still was the “right” way to meditate and, given my attachment to doing things right, I put myself in a bind.
A liberating consequence of waking up from my trance of external focus is that my grip on a perception of “right” and “wrong” is relaxing and, increasingly, I look for a subtle internal perception to guide my choices.
By giving myself greater permission to find my own way, I have found that writing and dancing can be pleasurable and effective meditative practices too.
As it is with sitting meditation, I use my dance and stream-of-consciousness writing practices to witness myself—to cultivate an awareness of a "higher," non-physical, objective or un-attached Self that watches my doing self do what she does—breathe, feel, dance, write, think, evaluate, etc., with complete acceptance.
In these active meditations, I let my hand move freely across the page, unstopped by the mental chatter that tells me what I’m writing is crap. I let my body move freely, unstopped by emotions and judgments vying for my attention.
I simply bear witness to myself, in all my human struggle, yearning, need, attachment. I allow myself to be, without being at the mercy of how I am.
I might be embarrassed by something I just wrote. I keep writing, unmoved by the aspect of me that wants to do or be perceived in a certain way.
I may be irritated by the music or feel awkward in my body as I move to it. I keep dancing, unimpeded by my judgments of what is good or bad.
My intention in these practices is not to ignore my feelings, my emotions, my thoughts or judgments. I pay attention to them. I just don’t attend to them. I don’t let them rule me. I acknowledge them, then let them be.
In my moving meditations I am practicing the art of allowing myself to be however I am, without being a slave to that way of being. In doing so, I am discovering a freedom that is exhilarating, liberating, ecstatic even. To simply let myself be is a gift. And it’s a gift that gives to others as well…
As my ability to accept myself exactly as I am expands, my ability to accept others exactly as they are expands as well. This practice reveals the wisdom of Thomas Merton’s words about love:
“Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy. That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody's business. What we are asked to do is to love, and this love itself will render both ourselves and our neighbors worthy, if anything can."
Whatever meditative practices we choose to undertake, may they move us into greater awareness of ourselves as we truly are...and may we cultivate deep compassion for all we discover.
Image Copyright : Paul Prescott