Movement Meditation: Centering Breath
Meditation invokes a shift in consciousness, whether it be in stillness or action. Movement meditation can be a very accessible way to restore the equilibrium of the mind. When you are in the midst of your day and your mind is restless or disturbed, doing this simple movement meditation can create an immediate shift in conciousness, enabling you to bring greater awareness and peace into the world around you.
The following meditation is based upon the opening movements of Surya Namaskar or Sun Salutation. The linking of the breath with the archetypal arm movements—expanding the arms upward on the inhalation and then contracting them down the center line of your spine on the exhalation—taps into the basic rhythm of life that defines our moment-to-moment reality. Our breath and our heartbeat both follow this expand-and-contract movement. The grounding force of gravity which is part of apana or "downward force" corresponds with the pulling of the arms toward the earth; a rebound effect is felt in the drawing upwards of the arms with the inhalation.
This meditation can be done while seated or standing. To begin, bring your hands together at your heart, in anjali mudra. Take a moment to become receptive by shifting from thinking mind to listening mind. Scan your body and mind and ask yourself how you are feeling. Take note of the answer (scattered, irritated, tired, excited) without investing or analyzing the content.
Now, on an inhalation, draw your arms overhead from the roots of your feet. Coordinate your breath with the movement so that at the top of your inhalation, your hands come together overhead. As you exhale, draw your arms down the center line of your spine so that your arms rest beside your hips when you complete your exhalation.
Repeat this rhythm, drawing upward on the inhalation and downward on the exhalation for as long as it feels appropriate, probably somewhere between three to five minutes. Concentrate on merging your breath and movement and being present every moment.
Notice as your movement and breath start to syncopate that your internal state begins to shift. As your breath slows down with the grace of your movement, feel your inner balance returning. When you feel a natural urge to end, take one last cycle with the arms and then draw your hands together at your heart. Take a few moments of to quietly reflect before returning to the movements of your life, more centered and enlivened by your movement meditation.