MEDITATION IN MOVEMENT

In MYSTICAL DANCE by Niels Viggo HansenLeave a Comment

How does meditation look? Probably the first thing that comes to mind is the classical Buddha image. But even though this silent, upright, wakeful way of holding the body is wonderful and helpful in meditation, meditation itself is not ultimately limited to any particular posture. In fact, it is not even necessarily still. Meditation can also be dynamic.

Meditative techniques involving body and movement exist in many traditions, classical and modern. Yoga, Zen walking meditation, Tai Chi and Sufi dance are famous examples but there are many others. While classical forms of movement meditation mostly involve rather fixed, prescribed movement patterns, at least some more recent forms are more intuitive and free in their expression – an interesting new cultural development where “wild” teachers and communities such as Osho’s have contributed much.
Research in moving meditation forms has found very positive results, especially in the treatment and prevention of depression.
The experience of doing and teaching dynamic meditation is that this approach is particularly useful for opening certain essential steps of a meditation process as more concrete, understandable and doable. Thoughts and emotions that feel disturbing to the meditation process can be directly recycled into deep meditation through questions and instructions such as “how does this obstacle feel in the body? And where does it flow? Go along with it as an impulse in the body, allow the music in there and dance with it.” The experience is that practicing this kind of meditative moves actively with the body helps a lot in making the same movement in silent meditations. Of course it goes the other way too: experience and training from deep still meditation can allow greater fluidity and depth in moving meditation.

For the last few years I have been developing and teaching moving meditation seminars with a group of friends and colleagues. We involve specially designed music, live music, group sharing of experiences and philosophical explorations – which all comes together in an opening and relieving experience of meditation which is rewarding and moving, in all the senses of the word. If you would like to give moving meditation a 20 minutes’ try in your living room, here is a little gift, an introduction to dynamic meditation on this page.

With many forms of meditation, the practice with a group seems to strengthen the sense of meditative depth and insight. This is the case with moving mediation as well, and the embodied sense of moving together gives extra warmth and presence to the sharing of experience and reflection.

The ancient Greeks celebrated two kinds of mysteries, the Apollonian, balancing, introspective, and the Dionysian, expressive, letting-go. While sitting meditation tends to look more to Apollo’s side, moving meditation also makes sure to invite good old Dionysus. We sometimes call our seminars mystery celebrations, implying that both guys have a seat at the table. Does this make sense in the modern world?

About the Author
Niels Viggo Hansen

Niels Viggo Hansen

Niels Viggo Hansen, Ph.D., researcher at ”Interacting Minds Centre”, Aarhus University, Denmark. Dancing philosopher, teacher of “moving meditation”. Niels Viggo’s website.

Photo from Moving Meditation.

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