Thai massage – movement meditation.
Through presence with whatever is I feel in my client’s body, focus on the breath and mindful touch that continuously responds to what is felt, a meditative state provides a listening space for the body to respond and begin to heal itself.
Receiving a Thai massage can also be a meditative experience. An opportunity to let go of your everyday thoughts and take a sensory journey around your body, paying attention to each area and tuning into what is experienced within.
Starting your own meditation practice
There’s a lot of talk about meditation and mindfulness – the what, why and the how… but it actually is very, very simple and there is nothing you need to have, get or change in order to practice. A meditation practice is a personal journey, so there is also no right or wrong. It’s about developing awareness within yourself – and you are unique, so your practice will be too. …And it is ALL about the journey – there is no goal or endpoint, because that would simply give us something to ‘attach’ to, judge ourselves against and berate ourselves for! (Mindfulness is also about developing compassion for ourselves and others.)
There are no rituals required, no tools, no joss sticks, no books, no postures to master (although if these help you that’s ok!). It’s just you being with yourself and whatever is, now. You can practice anytime; a few minutes whilst standing and waiting for the kettle to boil, or mindfully brushing your teeth. It really is simple and you can start now. To be mindful is simply to be fully engaged and present with what is happening, right now. So if you are brushing your teeth: notice your bodily sensations, the weight of your feet on the floor, any body tensions, the sounds of brushing or others noises surrounding you, the taste, the smell… all of these sense perceptions can be noticed as they occur and then let go of.
Our brains can only compute one sense perception at a time, albeit at a very fast rate so in real time it does feel like we are seeing, hearing, touching… simultaneously. But we’re not. Try listening to your favourite music fully: relax, close you eyes and hear fully every instrument and layer of sound all at once. When we give all of our awareness and attention to one sense perception it can almost be overwhelming. Silence actually can be deafening. Simply focus all of your attention on whatever activity is at hand.
Mindfulness meditation develops self-awareness, insight and objectivity that can transform our daily lives. Practicing mindfulness is about learning to take control of our mind (an amazing tool!) and make it work for us. It’s good to locate the off switch for the voice in our heads! …Especially when this voice is in the mood to criticise!
So practicing is simple, in theory! The practice of being still and present with whatever is however can be challenging at times. There are many obstacles and distractions: boredom, focus, emotions, restlessness… It helps to remember that these are not ‘in the way’ but that they ‘are the way’; a part of our journey of discovery. It’s likely that obstacles we experience in meditation will reflect the obstacles we experience in life. Acceptance is key. We’ve possibly spent our whole lives slaving away to our minds. Switching it off – or stepping back, and just observing, can help us to learn a lot about ourselves.
If you really want to explore this journey and have time, you may want to give a little regular time to your practice. There are a lot of techniques and guidance about how to practice ‘formally’. Here are a few simple techniques:
- Breathing meditation – the breath is a constant anchor we can come back to in order to focus our attention on ourselves and aid calmness.
- Walking meditation
- Body scan meditation
- Freeform dance. I run a freestyle dance group, The Royal Society for the Protection of Freestyle Pantswinging 🙂 This is an excellent way to give yourself some time to drop down into your body more fully, moving in your own unique way, at your own pace and enjoy the sense of freedom that dance can provoke.
Ultimately it’s about finding what works for you and being kind to yourself.
Mindfulness is not about achieving a state of constant bliss and living a challenge-free life of detachment. It’s about training our minds to support our lives and relationships in a more positive way; about us using our mind to the best of its ability.
Meditation can quickly start to shine a little light, create a little space and develop a sense of calm.