As a result of the enforced lockdown in the UK and many countries worldwide, we have had to temporarily press pause on our externalised daily routines. During this time, an appreciation for nature has come to the fore - acting as a daily reprieve from the monotony of so much time spent inside our homes. The daily commute to the office has been substituted for a morning stroll around the local park; as restrictions have eased, meet-ups with friends and loved ones are diverted to green open spaces.
For many, our relationship with the natural world outside our front door has shifted: it is no longer a means to get from point A to point B – nature can itself be a part of the journey. ‘Usually, our lives exist in duality,’ comments Akshai Narain, resident yoga & wellness practitioner at our Cotswolds Spa. ‘We have compartmentalized our existence. We talk about keeping our personal and professional lives separate. Is it really possible?’ Indeed, as many have had to bring the workplace, the school classroom, gyms and more into the home, it seems it may not be so easy to distinguish between these facets of our existence any longer. ‘We want to be ‘at work’ or we want to be ‘at rest.’ But what if we could work restfully?’
The answer lies in active meditation. It is a common misconception that all meditation has to be done in a seated or reclined position, demanding the participant to dedicate long periods of time to stillness - emptying the mind of all thoughts and feelings. In fact, it can be very hard for a person who is experiencing anxiety – as many people will be as a result of this pandemic – to meditate sitting in silence. More active forms of meditation can provide alternatives to those who still wish to reap the benefits of mindfulness, bypassing the potentially daunting prospect of being alone with one’s own thoughts.
What is active meditation?
In essence, active meditation is any form of movement or activity that keeps you in a sustained meditative state and grounds you in the present moment whilst you are doing it. This form of meditation is well-suited to beginners who are just starting to explore meditative practices and provides a more accessible form of mindfulness for many. The simplest example of this could be taking a mindful walk in nature: focus on the rhythm of your breathing combined with the pace of your steps; acknowledge the sounds of birds chirping above you or bumble bees buzzing; take notice of the faint smell of berries and scented flowers falling on the air.
Active meditation can also be good preparation for more traditional, disciplined forms of meditation for those who wish to further their own meditation journey. ‘In Passive Meditation, we adopt a sitting pose maintaining a straight spine and through this, combined with conscious breathing, we establish a powerful alignment between the body, mind, soul and Chakra systems,’ says Cristina Chandika Ma, resident yoga & healing practitioner at our Cotswolds Spa. ‘From this powerful alignment we enter into a deep state of relaxation, inner stillness and inner silence – we feel oneness with all that is, with nature, with the universe and with the whole cosmos.’
You can learn more about passive meditation in our article on Mindfulness.
'The body benefits from movement; the mind benefits from stillness.'
- Sakyong Mipham
Walking meditations are a great way to train oneself to move with awareness and consideration, and will help to reconcile the dualities of work and rest. ‘If we train ourselves in this way, we will better prepare ourselves for the countless journeys that life will lead us on: to stay on track and not lose sight of the destination, yet enjoy the sights and sounds that we encounter along the way, that serve only to enrich the experience,’ Akshai says.
The Awakening Wellness Walks that we run from our Bamford Wellness Spa in the Cotswolds are a wonderful way to experience a walking meditation. Guided by our resident yogis, you are invited to actively meditate whilst you soak in the sights and delights of Daylesford Organic Farm. The fresh air of the countryside will fuel you as you walk, raising the pranic energy moving through the body and mind. By becoming in sync with the outer world, the inner world automatically starts experiencing peace.
Our walks are inspired by the central tenet of Active Meditation: that movement and mindfulness can co-exist. Life is best enjoyed in the present moment. While we walk, while we breathe, every second, we can meditate.
Our Awakening Wellness Walks take place at our Costwolds spa every weekend. Learn more and book your place.