When you think about meditation, you might think about someone serenely sitting on her cushion with her eyes closed, soft music in the background, beautiful flowers on an altar, burning incense, etc. While this may be true, there are many other things that can be considered meditation.
According to Jon Kabat-Zinn, in his book Arriving at Your Own Door, “meditation is really about paying attention, and the only way in which we can pay attention is through our senses, all of them, including the mind. “
If you think about it then, ANYTHING can be meditation. The key is to be present, pay attention, and experience the present moment with the senses of taste, touch, smell, sound, sight, and thought. So, you can be aware of all (or part) of theses senses when you are sitting in meditation but you can also take this practice OFF THE CUSHION.
In fact, in a recent article I just read on Diets in Review, they were mentioning the fact that since here is a growing body of evidence that suggests that sitting for long periods of time is pretty unhealthy for the body, you might want to try more active types of meditation practice, particularly if you are sedentary during the day. Read full article here. Not that I want to discourage anyone from sitting meditation practice (as I think it is a pretty healthy thing to do). But, I do want to suggest that you take a broader perspective about meditation practice.
My own meditation practice this summer has included watering the flower beds. In case you haven’t noticed, we are having an incredible drought this summer, and I have spent hours watering to try to keep my flowers and trees alive. Instead of being frustrated by what is happening, I have brought this activity into the realm of meditation practice. The time I spend watering is time I get to spend outside in nature, being grateful for the beauty of the flowers, listening to all the little bugs and birds, breathing in fresh air (something we don’t get enough of these days), feeling the warmth of the sun against my skin, and smelling the scents of the mulch and flowers. Occasionally I even have an erratic sprinkler that gets me pretty wet which is just delightful.
Other types of active meditation are described in the article above and include walking or running meditation, cleaning or yard work meditation, and dancing meditation. I would also include yoga, swimming, biking, hiking, and climbing to name a few. All you have to do is be present and take it all in. Do these types of activities on a regular basis by yourself and strengthen your ability to be present for your life, as well as get some much needed movement into your day.