By Karen Nourizadeh
Does the thought of sitting in meditation make you feel jumpy? You are not alone! Hundreds of students that I teach in New York City either have no time in their busy schedules for seated meditation, or some simply don’t have the desire. Yet, don’t discount a meditative practice just because a meditation cushion isn’t involved. There are countless ways to meditate in motion, and attain the numerous benefits associated with meditation, such as improved focus, productivity or performance, clarity, stress-reduction, and relaxation.
Meditation is a state of being, a state of absorption which leads to inner peace, harmonizing our flow to being in the present moment with awareness, and accepting what is, rather than resisting what is not. Meditation is a receptive state. Moving is an active state. So how do meditation and motion, seemingly opposite states, integrate? By keeping the mind focused while performing an activity. Once the mind is focused, it becomes absorbed in the activity itself. If the mind remains ‘still’ in focus, undisturbed by outer distractions and unwanted thoughts, then deep concentration begins to develop and one begins to absorb into the activity itself, focused and present to what arises in each moment as the activity continues. When this state of absorption begins to take place, the brain-waves begin to slow down and so it appears, does time, and one enters a ‘zone’, which often feels like little or no time has passed. When this occurs, one cultivates thoughts from the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the most evolved part of the brain, and one intuitively picks up more ‘signals’ or ‘signs’ from both inner and outer worlds. The activity itself becomes infused with this focused energy, allowing one to flow in the activity while performing it, creating a beautiful moving meditative state.
Paying attention in the present moment, open to whatever arises, but not distracted by it, may sound much easier than it actually is, and that’s when one’s will, discipline, and determination must enter into the picture. Simply put, it takes practice and a desire to practice. I recall an interview with Tiger Woods and his father, in which Tiger’s father relayed how he trained Tiger to stay focused while golfing, by rattling change in his pockets during many of his upswings, or, by bringing him out to practice in unfavorable weather and field conditions. He bombarded Tiger with innumerable distractions to teach him to focus, to discipline him to pay attention in the present moment, so that he could become absorbed in his activity, and enter a zone in which he performed at his peak. While Tiger might have been more aware of his distractions, he learned how to be unperturbed by them, using discernment to assess how to ‘manage’ his attention and the conditions in the moments before, during and even after his swinging and hitting the ball.
Here’s a four-step process to moving in meditation.
- Select an activity. It can be any activity, such as talking to others, cooking, running, gardening, biking, eating, walking, waiting on-line, driving, writing, or working.
- Resolve to maintain a relaxed focus while performing the activity. Remain receptive but alert.
- Remain open and neutral to whatever arises. Rather than judge or indulge in your thoughts, beliefs, or outer stimuli, which may avert or attract your attention.
- When necessary, use discernment, sharper perceptive abilities, or as we yogis like to say,
‘wisdom’, while performing the activity. Discernment takes practice as one must cultivate a neutral perspective (aversions or attractions prohibited) to the information coming in, in order remain focused, and respond with wisdom or discernment, not judgment, praise, or criticism.
You know you are moving in meditation, if time has escaped you, or you’ve entered a ‘zone’, or you’ve maximized an aspect of or the experience of your activity. Sometimes, the senses, which are normally withdrawn for meditation, become heightened when you are moving in meditation, making colors, dimensions, sounds, visions, or smells seem more profound or ‘alive’. Move in meditation and increase your ability to flow and vibrate in harmony with yourself, your surroundings, the activity and even aspects of your life. Namaste.
Karen Nourizadeh is a meditation guru for Pure Yoga. A former litigating attorney for Fortune 500 companies, after a decade at the top of her field Karen left her stressful life behind to embark on an enlightening path of mediation and mindfulness. Karen teaches weekly classes and sold-out workshops at Pure Yoga to a list of celebrities and some of NYC's most influential fitness personalities and enthusiasts that include yin yoga, tantric yoga nidra technique, general meditation, sleep workshops, and much more. Karen also brings her expertise back to the corporate world, lecturing for companies like Saks Fifth Avenue, NBC, ABC, American Express, and Tishman-Speyer, sharing tips for stress management and bringing meditation practices into everyday life.
Pure Yoga, founded in 2002, has risen to become the leader in yoga across Asia before arriving on the Upper East and Upper West Sides of New York in 2008. At Pure Yoga, members enjoy countless opportunities to advance their practice with incredible instructors in their serene, luxurious, and expansive facilities. What makes Pure Yoga different: over 350 weekly classes across 20 yoga styles including hot yoga, ashtanga, iyengar, and meditation; guidance from world-renowned instructors; an urban oasis with relaxing lounges, eco-friendly locker rooms, and luxurious amenities; and expertly curated events with global leaders in yoga hosting intensive workshops, teacher trainings, and exclusive retreats to Cuba, India, Hawaii and more.