Is Movement Your Meditation? Think Again.


Movement is not my meditation. Movement isn’t your meditation either.

I often hear people say “[running / swimming / lifting / insert workout here…] is my meditation.” Let’s not conflate concepts — movement is your exercise. Let me explain.
Meditation de-excites the body in order to release stress. Movement excites the body and, in doing so, adds stress. There are, of course, certain types of stress that are good for the body. We’ve all heard of positive stress, or eustress. If you are nervous before a big date or if you feel a rush of nervous excitement before a speaking engagement, this is eustress. When you build muscle you also put your body through positive stress. When you study for an exam you put the brain through stress, too. So you see, certain stressors are normal and even vital to building a healthy life. But, it’s still adding stress to the body.
Meditation, on the other hand, offers the opportunity to create an environment in your body that is deeply restful. With meditation, you are capable of dipping into a layer of your consciousness where it’s possible to create a prime healing environment that allows the body to release stress. This is why so many people celebrate the effects meditation has on their health, their sleeping schedules, their performance at work and their ability to be present in relationships. With a regular meditation practice, you experience true recovery from stress. Meditation enables you to release what plagues you, to contact a quiet and serene basin inside of yourself. It is in these moments that the body truly benefits from a meditation practice — and this is why movement is no substitute for meditation.
During meditation, all the body’s energy can be devoted to healing and repairing.
I repeat: movement is no substitute for meditation. Are you with me now? Lifting heavy weights or distance running may have you feeling like you are in the proverbial zone, but don’t be fooled. A true meditation practice actually enables you to fall into a state of experiencing NO stress through deep rest. There is no substitute for meditation because no other practice creates such a restful, still, calm environment for you to clear stress from the body and harness the body’s incredible abilities to heal itself.
Do you feel some mental relief post-workout? Of course. That’s because you exhausted the body. The body and mind are invariably linked and where one goes, the other follows. An exhausted body will often lead to a quieter mind because your body’s resources are being used to heal the stress you put your body through during your workout. A quiet mind achieved via a workout is superficial and only temporary. Once your body recovers, you’re back to where you started. Trying to manage stress through movement will put you on the fast track to injury. You will never be able to get enough to stymie your mounting stress levels, especially if you have been dealing with chronic stress.
The better strategy is to incorporate a meditation practice into your routine. As the stress dissipates, your strength, flexibility, and reaction times will improve. 
So yes, meditation is my meditation. It can be yours too. Come to a free intro talk at The Spring Meditation to learn more about how Vedic Meditation can improve your quality of life. Welcome to an easier way to manage your stress.