“In the midst of movement and chaos,
keep stillness inside of you.”
~ Deepak Chopra
There are many ways to practice mindfulness meditation. Beginning to include practices that incorporate movement can be a way to deepen your presence and support you in being more mindful as you move about through your daily life and the world around you.
Anytime that you practice mindful movements, with your attention fully in the activity and with a mindful attitude, you are practicing meditation. Some activities to explore include walking, eating, cleaning, or doing the dishes. We’ll take time to work with each of the in future Mindfulness Mondays posts.
For this week, I was feeling to share a few simple ways to begin to explore working with mindful movement and the breath. As I’ve shared before, sometimes due to the subtlety of the breath, it can be hard to focus on it, especially for beginning practitioners. Also, for people who have experienced trauma or tend to be disconnected from their bodies in some way, bringing together movement and the breath, can be a way to really become more connected within themselves.
Movement With Breath Exploration
You can do these practices either sitting, on a chair or crosslegged/lotus position on the floor or in a standing position. Sometimes it is good to explore practicing mindfulness in a standing position — if you have not done so, I encourage you to do so with this practice. There may be times when practicing mindfulness is helpful in your daily life but taking time to sit and practice is not possible. As you cultivate a standing practice, it will become easier practice mindfulness as you stand on line at the grocery store, walk down the street, etc.
Come to a comfortable position either sitting or standing. If standing, stand up straight with your feet about hip-width apart. Allow your knees to be slightly bent, not tense. Relax your shoulders back, your chest and your stomach. Tilt your chin a bit toward your chest so that your head is balanced on your neck and shoulders.
Whether sitting or standing, have a soft gaze on the floor in front of you, about 3 feet forward. Begin to notice the sensation of your breath. Become mindful of any areas in your body that feel tense or uncomfortable. Without trying to relax them, simply notice.
3 Ways To Practice Movement With Breath…
1) Floating Arms ~ After a few moments of tuning into to your breath and your body, begin to move your arms upwards in front of you with palms facing the floor. As you breathe in, letting your arms simple float up to about shoulder height, continuing to rise for the length of the in-breath. Once at shoulder height, slowly let then move back down as you breath out, returning to the side of your body on as the out-breath completes. Repeat this practice 10 or 15 rounds and notice any physical sensations as you do so.
2) Butterfly Hands ~ Holding your hands in front of your body at a 90 degree angle. Place your palms together, fingers touching and then cross your thumbs one over the other. As you breathe in, allow the pinky side of your hand to move outwards, spreading your finger and keeping thumbs intertwined so that your hands appear to be a like a butterfly opening it’s wings. As you breathe out, allow your bring your hands back together palms together, fingers touching and thumbs crossed. Repeat this practice 10 or 15 rounds and notice any physical sensations as you do so.
3) Lotus Flower ~ Holding your hands in front of your body at a 90 degree angle. Place your palms together with all fingers touching and pointing straight out from your body. On your in-breath, move the thumb side of your hands outward, allowing all of the fingers but the pink to become open, like a lotus blossoming. On the out-breath, slowly bring your fingers together one by one from ring finger back to thumb until palms are together once again. Repeat this practice 10 or 15 rounds and notice any physical sensations as you do so.
Take a few mindful moments to watch this video of a lotus blossom opening and closing. There is a a rhythmic stillness in this movement which we can bring to our own mindfulness movements.
After exploring these practices, you may also like to create your own mindful movements. Be creative.
At the end of your practice, take some time to reflect, explore and journal about the following questions:
- On a scale of 1 – 10, how mindful did you feel as you began?
- On a scale of 1 – 10, how mindful did you feel as you finished your practice?
- What did you notice about your bodily sensations? Was one movement more beneficial for you than another?
- What thoughts arose while you were practicing?
- What emotions arose for you while your were practicing?
- How did it feel to incorporate movement with the breath? How might you continue to work with this type of practice?
I hope you’ll take some time to explore mindful movements this week.
Tashi Deleh (I honor the greatness with you!)