By Dr. Tae Yun Kim
How do you define meditation?
Some people say that in order to meditate correctly you must cross your legs in a certain way. Others say you have to breathe in a certain way or meditate for a specific period of time focusing on a certain object or idea—or on nothing at all.
I have found that having strict rules about what to do and what not to do makes it hard for many of us to even consider meditating. Not everyone, for instance, can meditate with their legs crossed. If some people try to meditate that way, they will spend the entire meditation thinking to themselves, “Oh my gosh, my leg is killing me!” That’s counterproductive because the pain is bringing up negative thoughts and making us feel uncomfortable and creating anxiety rather than peace.
In addition, in our busy 21st-century, all of us are concerned about managing our time and our schedules. How many of us can find the time to sit quietly somewhere for an hour each day? If you think you have to meditate for an extended period of time every single day, you may give up before you even give it a try. Each of us is unique, and so we have to adapt our personal meditation style to our individual lives, to our lifestyle, and our surroundings.
I would like to introduce you to a different way of understanding what it means to meditate and how you can incorporate this beautiful practice into your life. First and foremost, meditation is meant to bring you tranquility and peace of mind, to to bring awareness so you can discern what to accept and reject.
When we are totally engaged in the present moment and are at one with our true self, without extraneous thoughts entering in and disturbing us, we are meditating. We can achieve that state of oneness while in quiet meditation, but we can also achieve it when in the midst of any activity. That means we can be “meditating” anytime and anywhere.
If you are a ballet dancer and are completely engaged in your performance, one with the flow of the music and the sublime movement of the other dancers on stage, you are meditating. If you are in the audience watching the ballet and are so captivated by it that you feel one with the cadence and rhythm of the performance, you, too, are meditating. You’re not thinking, “I’ve got to get home and pay my bills” or, “I need to be sure and pick up those clothes from the dry cleaner tomorrow.”
By this definition, you can be meditating while you are immersed in watching a spectacular sunset, listening to a flock of birds fly gracefully overhead, taking in the beauty of a garden in full bloom, playing the piano, laughing with a child, cooking a special meal for a friend, or even playing a sport.
The truth is that any activity that you do with your body and mind as one in the present moment can be a moving meditation as you draw your thoughts and actions to a central focus. “If that’s true,” you may ask, “what about when I’m balancing my checkbook or cleaning house or building a bookshelf?” Yes, those things can be moving meditations, too, if you carry them out in the spirit of “body and mind as one.”
Turning Daily Activities into Moving Meditations.
A good way to help make your daily activities a moving meditation is to write down or say aloud (or silently to yourself) an affirmation that reflects how you will engage your mind and body as one as you carry out a specific activity. Here are a few examples:
While you are driving, you might say: “I am keeping a calm, attentive state of mind as I patiently and persistently move toward my destination.”
At work: “I am focusing on this particular project this morning and will not allow anything to distract me.”
Engaging in sports: “I am totally focused on the present moment and am aware of all my surroundings—the field, the other players, the ball.”
Cooking a meal: “I am expressing my love for the people who will receive this meal, including myself.”
Eating a meal: “I am focusing on loving myself as I nourish my body.”
Sharing affection with your significant other: “I am focusing completely on this moment together, on the beauty of who you are and the joy you bring to my life.”
Playing with your children: “I am giving all my attention to you at this moment and am expressing my gratitude to you because you remind me of how much joy there is in life.”
Singing or dancing: “I am one with the music as I send this loving message from my heart to the world.”
Reading a book: “I am learning all I can and becoming a better person in the process.”
So you can see that any activity that brings us into deeper communion with our real self in the present moment, whatever gives you a sense of peaceful unity, is a moving meditation. With the right frame of mind, the right view, and the right attitude, we can move as one with our inner self at all times, thereby creating harmony, beauty, peace, right action, and love right where we are, right now.