What images come to mind when you hear or see the word meditation? How many of those images include movement? For the average person, not many.
There are many forms of meditation, some of which involve movement and sound. Meditation does not always mean sitting pretzel-legged on the floor, in silence, for hours on end.
From teaching meditation, I’ve learned that connecting to self and others through movement works extremely well. This is otherwise known as movement meditation, which is a fulfilling way of experiencing the present moment (also known as mindfulness) and reducing stress. The most popular examples of this form of meditation are yoga, tai chi, and qigong.
Sound (a vibration) and rhythm (a pattern of vibrations) also work well with meditation. As a result, entrainment, the synchronization of separate vibrations to one another, has been studied to explain the relationship between sound and states of consciousness.
More specifically, research has shown that certain sounds can alter brainwave activity in a way that is more conducive to meditation. For instance, hand drumming has been found to promote alpha brainwave activity present during meditation and bring about a state of euphoria.
Wayne Perry, author of Sound Medicine (Career Books, 2007), also mentions that at times the brain entrains to certain sounds, which can ultimately alter states of consciousness.
Movement + Rhythm = Meditation
Similarly, as a musician I’ve found that movement and rhythm have a meditative effect when experienced mindfully. When playing a rhythm on my djembe, a West African hand drum, there is a feeling that each cell in my body resonates with the rhythm.
In essence, my body becomes the rhythm. Although I am allowing my mind and body to experience the rhythm, I am constantly aware of my thoughts, sensations, and surroundings just as I would be during sitting meditation.
More than One Way to Meditate
No matter where you are in life, there’s always something to learn from practising meditation. The great news is that there’s more than one way to meditate.
Next time you feel stressed or emotionally drained, try attending a meditation workshop or enrolling in a course. Maybe there’s a new instrument or dance that’s calling your name, waiting to be discovered. Being curious, staying open minded, and fitting a bit of “me” time into your hectic schedule can go a long way!
Basic Meditation Tips
- Be patient. The one thing that will stop you from relaxing and connecting with yourself is getting anxious about not being able to.
- When you hear a rhythm or sound, try to pay attention to how it’s making you feel (physically, emotionally, spiritually). Where in your body do you feel the sound? What is it about the sound that draws you in or pushes you away?
- Create a special spot where you can comfortably meditate. For the first while, set a timer for 10 minutes, and slowly increase the time as you deepen your practice.
- Inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh (Zen master, author, and peace activist), I suggest that beginners take 10 mindful breaths in the morning before getting out of bed and 10 more before going to sleep. Start and end the day well by connecting to the body and releasing tension.