Within the realm of meditation there is a plethora of different styles, techniques and modalities. Whilst the techniques will vary, most styles will be seated with an applied focus & concentration on the breath, body, visualisation or specific intent. Whilst there are numerous scientific benefits of meditation, one important meditation teaching that is often not taught is that of meditation preparation and particularly the gentle movement of the body prior to sitting.
Having been meditating for 6 years at the time of writing this article, i know all too well how a lack of movement preparation can affect the quality of your meditation. In the beginning i was a dedicated mindfulness meditator and practiced daily. Whilst i received many benefits from mindfulness meditation and still do it, the missing ingredient was mind-body connectedness and my attention was becoming dominantly focused in mental perceptions rather than bodily experience.
I began to experience the phenomenon of ‘noting’ whereby the individual adds a silent mental note describing their day to day observations and experiences, often in meticulous detail. Whist noting can be a useful practice in enhancing awareness of your everyday thoughts and actions, it can also create a running commentary in the mind and a reduced connection to the physical & emotional body. Emotions can become a bit numbed and you can feel a bit ‘heady’ and not fully integrated within your body.
This is where Qigong comes in brilliantly for meditators. It is basically a mindful movement style of meditation involving gentle exercises and stretching that help warm up for seated meditation and to become more embodied. Adding Qigong to my morning routine before meditation completely transformed my meditations and relieved the above side effects i was having.
It did wonders for my clarity of thought during the sit, enhanced the depth of body awareness, and stimulated my vital energy (Qi) system as i was sitting. The ‘noting’ anomaly also completely disolved and i was able to centre my point of attention more clearly.
In addition, Qigong also has many other health benefits including:
* Improved mood, stress and anxiety reduction
* Greater aerobic capacity
* Improved muscle strength & definition
* More energy and stamina
* Enhanced flexibility, balance, and agility.
* Lower blood pressure and improved heart health
* Reduced Inflammation
* Improved self confidence
* Raising the ‘Qi’ vital energy
* Reduced racing thoughts
For those who have attended my workshops, you will have experienced these benefits first hand as Qigong and movement preparation have now formed a key part of my meditation teaching. If you are a regular meditator and looking for ways to increase mental clarity during your practice, move beyond the experience of ‘noting’ or to introduce an energetic dimension to your meditations; try doing some qigong movements as a warm up before you meditate. It can be as short as just 10 minutes to start feeling the benefits. You can even journal the difference to your meditation each time you add the Qigong and compare it to the times when you don’t.
To learn Qigong for yourself, you can enrol on the Magic Movement 6 week course i will be facilitating from Wednesday 27th June via my website