Being a yoga teacher for five years has allowed me to meet so many different types of people – those who’ve stepped on the mat for the first time and enjoyed it, those who’ve tried yoga and didn’t like it, those who swear by it for its many benefits and those who refuse to try just at the thought of it. The way yoga is portrayed usually goes about two ways: either in a cross-legged seated position while meditating or a standing, balancing pose.
The monks of Tibet would go into a cave and meditate for at least 18 hours a day. If you learned this is how to go about it, would you even try? Not even an avid yogi would do that and quite frankly, this is not the only way. I am not surprised as to why many people don’t think the practice of meditation is for them. If there’s anything in common that comes with most people’s perception of it, it’s the fact that the body is required to sit still. But does it really?
Meditation is defined as a practice, which uses a technique in order to bring an individual into a state of calmness and clarity. It has been proven to increase one’s productivity and teaches you to breathe better resulting to better stress management. But the price, which is to close your eyes and sit for at least 15 minutes without thinking of anything, is pretty costly especially to those who are used to jumping from one thought to another.
If you are new to the idea of meditation but have been hearing about its endless list of positive effects on your total wellbeing, then movement is your entryway.
The postural practice of yoga is the answer to that, as it teaches body awareness, which draws your attention to your breath and your body, shutting out any external sensations and distraction. But when yoga is still “too much,” you can hack your way to your personal state of flow. Here are a few ideas:
- Tempo runs. Endurance sports are not just about physical fitness, it requires major mind training as well. If you’re not an athlete, walking, jogging or running at a steady pace for at least 45 minutes is good mind training and gets you in that meditative state easier than when you are seated.
- Cycling. And we’re not referring to a studio class with blaring music but a long ride outdoors that allows you to focus on the path, your journey. I experienced this personally when I took a mountain bike tour in the Dumaguete province – something I feared doing but absolutely loved after. A scenic view helps stimulate you visually while keeping you present. Your mind can’t really wander off somewhere else while you’re doing this.
- Flow Arts such as Poi. The way to get on the path to meditation is to focus on one thing – nothing else. We call this Dristi (pronounced drish-ti) in Sanskrit. With any flow art, your attention goes to the object you are handling and the movement patterns you are creating with it. Others include ribbons, hoops, a steel mace, club bells and even a kettlebell. Anything that allows you to move freely yet in a pattern familiar to the body.
Once you’ve mastered finding your flow through movement, it becomes less difficult to sit still and find that same state of mind. You may begin with a 5-minute seated meditation and work your way up as you go.