If the idea of meditating intrigues you but you also find it painfully difficult to sit still and just “be” then dynamic meditation just might help set you on the path to OM….
I have been trying to get into meditation for a very long time. But I’ll be honest, I am not particularly good at it. And yet I know it is something I really need to learn to do. The science supporting the benefits of meditation are too strong for me to ignore. Of course that doesn’t make sitting in the full lotus any easier (sigh…)
The ironic thing is, every time I find myself sidelined with an injury or surgery I come back to getting serious about meditation. The reason probably has to do with the extreme frustration I feel when I am injured or hurt. The irritation I feel when injured or not able to move about is always a wake-up call that I really need to find more inner peace. Right now I have a stress fracture on my ankle and so I am stuck wearing this big clunky boot (see photo left)…Uggh. Since I am not able to do my typical “Full Fitness Fusion” style workout that blends multiple different exercise modalities to keep me from getting bored, I have had to resort to swimming, a form of exercise I find painfully mind-numbing.
But as with other struggles in my life, sometimes they turn out to be a blessing where I learn something new. And so it was yesterday….
It was during my swimming session yesterday when the idea of “dynamic meditation” first occurred to me.
Can Swimming Be a Form of Dynamic Meditation?
I was trying very hard to motivate myself to keep kicking from one side of our pool to the other while desperately wishing I could transport my mind to another place. When will this boring torture ever end?!? That’s when the idea of “Dynamic Meditation” hit me. Could I maybe kill THREE birds with one stone? Could I reap the benefits of meditation, get my exercise and also help alleviate the painful boredom of kicking, kicking, kicking?
Although I am certainly not an expert in meditation, I know enough to know that zeroing in on the breath is one of the first things to do when trying to meditate. The way I swim (to keep my hair from getting sopping wet!) makes it easy to focus on my breath because my head is out of water the entire time. When I swim, I flutter my legs like I am doing the front crawl stroke while doing the breast stroke with my hands, but all the while I keep my head out of water. It’s a made up “Ivy Stroke” but it gets my heart rate up, it is definitely a workout and it doesn’t get my head wet. I was easily able to get into a rhythm with my breath with this stroke and I quickly started to notice that the more I focused just on my breath the more I was able to shut out the external stimuli, including that annoying little voice in my head that kept saying “this is so boring! this is so boring!”
Once you have the breathing mechanics down, you can start to become more mindful and begin to zero in on either an auditory or visual element of your swimming workout. I decided to zero in on the repetitive kicking sound of my feet.
Amazingly within 5 minutes I found myself in a “zone”. This was dynamic meditation! Had I discovered something new!?!? Of course not, apparently the idea of dynamic meditation has been around since the 1970’s and swimming as a form of meditation is also a “thing” with those in the know.
Swim or Walk Your Way to Bliss…
“Every path, every street in the world is your walking meditation path.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
I live in south Florida so swimming is an option for me pretty much year round. But if you don’t have a pool (and you don’t have a stress fracture on your ankle!) then it’s good to know that walking can also be a form of moving meditation. Just like with swimming, if you are engaging in walking as a form of dynamic meditation then you will want to focus first on our breath first and then on something visual or auditory next. They even have guided walking meditation sessions you can download for free from YouTube or you can read more about the principles of walking meditation HERE.
Just like with any form of meditation, there is no right or wrong way to do it. You have to resist the urge to criticize your breathing technique or whatever action you are doing (kicking, stepping, etc.) Whether you are walking or swimming, the goal is to observe without judgement and to become mindful and aware of the present moment.
I Have Not Given Up on More Conventional Forms of Meditation
Although I am thrilled to pieces that I have discovered a way to make it through my swimming workouts, I have not yet given up on more conventional forms of meditation just yet.
In fact, just before I got the stress fracture diagnosis I had ordered “The Ultimate Yogi”, Travis Eliot’s 108 Day DVD Journey that includes 12 dynamic yoga classes, including a class dedicated to yoga breathing (pranayam) and meditation. The program contains four universal guided meditations with the idea that if you can control your mind you can become a master of your own life. Meditation pranayam is an integral part of Travis Eliot’s program and it is something I really do want to master. For whatever it is worth, I was also able to try out two of his yoga classes (the “cardio” and “detox” ones) before I got stuck in this boot and if you are into yoga then you are sure to LOVE Travis. I am super excited to hit the mat once my foot heals.
In the meantime, I am just happy I have found a way to make it through the dreading swimming sessions 😉
Friday 7th of October 2016
Ivy, it was great to read this article and yes uplifting ! I fell down my steps 8 weeks ago and broke my heel very badly . So it's been hard as well for me. Being a breast cancer survivor and your health this is just a tweek . I wish I could do meditation. Surgery too and now a boot but I like your boot . ! Be well
Tuesday 11th of October 2016
Oh Sandy, I am so very sorry to hear about your fall =( Being injured can really take a MAJOR toll on your mental sanity, especially if you are an avid exerciser. Since I was 15 years old, exercise has always been like "medicine" to me and when I can't do it my entire mood is altered (for the worse, sigh) But I know there is serious research on the benefits of meditation and I am trying SO very hard to really learn to do it. It is serious struggle for me though as my mind goes in 20 different directions. And by the way, congrats on your breast cancer survival. I just can't imagine going through that. I wish you the best of luck with your foot injury. xoxo