Relaxation is a calm mind and a calm body. Meditation is a technique that is often used to help achieve relaxation; however, meditation is primarily about creating a calm mind.
If you are chronically multi-tasking, if your mind jumps from topic to topic, or if your to-do list is never-ending, you would probably benefit from meditation. Ok, everyone can benefit from meditation. If you are chronically multi-tasking, if your mind jumps from topic to topic, or if your to do list is never-ending, you will probably find the stereotype of meditation pretty difficult. If you sit with your legs crossed and your eyes closed, you’re either going to fall asleep or make a shopping list, draft a blog, and practice a conversation with your child all in under ten minutes, right?
If that sounds familiar, active mediation might for you. Like all things, learning to focus your mind takes practice (practice, practice). Focusing on nothing is much more difficult than focusing on one thing. We have to start with getting our minds to focus on one thing for a short amount of time before we try to get it to focus on one thing for a longer period of time.
Over time, I have learned to focus on simply observing my thoughts without getting caught up in the stream of consciousness, but only for a short period of time. Maybe some day I will learn to focus on nothing. I share this only to say that meditation is tough work. It’s no wonder that so many people give up after trying only a few times.
Active meditation, on the other hand, gives you something specific on which to focus, something you can experience with your sense in real time. Active meditation is simply focusing your mind on the activity that you are performing right now and not thinking about anything else. For example, right now I can focus on the movement of my fingers, their speed, and how the keys feel as I push each one. In turn, I can not meditate while typing this article because my mind is split, also considering the words I write and what next thought I want to share.
If active meditation is new, I suggest choosing a specific activity, rather than something you do on a regular basis. Go for a walk, jump rope, stretch, or find some other simple movement that works for you. Yoga can be a form of active meditation, depending on your focus. While you are practicing active meditation, focus on what you are doing, how your body feels as you perform that action, and the various sensations you are experiencing. Focus only on what you are doing and do not think about the future or the past. This is not the time to balance your checkbook or day dream about your next vacation. Noticing your breath and feeling the your lungs fill with air is a great start to meditation and helpful in creating a calm body.
Meditation may be about creating a calm mind, but active meditation can be a step towards creating a calm body as well. When your active meditation is complete, if your activity was even minimally intense, your body will automatically recover if you let it. The combination of a calm mind and a calm body is relaxation- active meditation is just a calm mind, so your body stays busy, giving you the added bonus of a calorie burn.