When people talk about meditation, they’re often referring to the kind that involves sitting in silence and/or visualizing. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of people who have a very hard time with this sort of meditation, whether it’s the sitting still or the visualization. If this is something you’ve had a problem with, you might want to consider looking into physical and movement-based forms of meditation instead.
Walking meditation is the type of physical meditation I use. In walking meditation, you pay close attention to each step as you take it. Focusing on the movement of your body helps take your mind off mental activity. It helps to clear your mind in a more concrete way than trying to visualize a white light may. When you focus on a physical motion, you have sensory input to pull you away from your mind and into the activity of the moment.
You can use any pattern or path that appeals to you. I tend to spiral in and then back out again. You can do walking meditation anywhere that works for you. I like to be outside but inside works just as well. The important thing is that you’re comfortable. After all, if you have horrible allergic reactions or phobias revolving around wildlife, you won’t be able to focus on meditation. You don’t even need a lot of room. Walking meditation can be as simple as pacing.
Labyrinth walking is a specific type of walking meditation that uses….well, labyrinths. Labyrinths have only one path that leads to a center and back out again. Some labyrinth walkers will stop in the middle for seated meditation, prayer, or reflection before exiting the labyrinth. What you do when you reach the center – if anything – is entirely up to you.
Like with any meditation, you can begin walking meditation with a general intention, a question to answer, or in search of enlightenment. You can also use walking meditation simply to clear your mind or calm yourself. These factors of meditation are always up to you as they’re the most important part of the act.
If you can’t walk or that simply doesn’t work for you, you can do tracing instead. Choose an image of a labyrinth or some other pattern and let your finger follow it in the same manner you would if you were walking it. Focusing on this motion is just as useful as focusing on walking. It may, in fact, be more useful to those who use their hands more than their feet. Below you can find a few images you can use.
(You’ll want to start on the inside for the sburb logo.)
Honestly, quite a lot of repetitive physical movements can be meditative. Swaying or rocking may work for you. Squeezing a stress ball, boading balls (gif), baton twirling, basic beginner steps to dances; there are plenty of motions that can help clear your mind. The only limitation on physical meditation is what you can do easily without thinking about it too much once you clear your mind and drift off.
In addition to motion, you may also benefit from exploring texture based meditation. Some people are more in tune with how things feel than the movement of their body. If there is a particular texture that you can practically lose yourself in, petting or rubbing something of this texture against your skin repeatedly could help you enter a trance or clear your mind. You may want to be careful with using rough textures like sandpaper, however. Getting into a trance and sandpapering your skin too hard is usually not a fun time.
Combining texture and motion may be even more useful to some than either on their own. To an outside viewer, I’m sure rubbing a cloth against your face while you rock can look creepy, but it shouldn’t be a shameful experience if this is what helps you. When I was younger, rocking was very soothing to me. Don’t be afraid to let yourself have that because of what other people might think.
I know I’m talking about calming motions a lot in this post, but calming yourself is the first step to meditating if you have extreme anxiety. This is also something I don’t see a lot of people talking about, though I hope it’s just because I’m missing the posts that do. If there is something that you frequently do to help calm your anxiety, it may be worth while to add it to your meditation routine. If you’re having a hard time with your anxiety, it may be why you aren’t having any luck meditating no matter the method you try.
If these methods do not work for you, but neither does the typical visualization method, you may also want to look into ways that incorporate sight (such as mandalas,) sound, or smell. These were not discussed as I felt these senses weren’t quite as strictly physical as the ones I wanted to talk about. But whatever method you use, I hope that something in this post has helped you to find one that works for you.