“Who in the world am I? Ah, that's the great puzzle.”
Even Lewis Carroll, when writing Alice in Wonderland knew how complex and contradictory our world can be and sometimes it is impossible to find ourselves in this maze of madness, rushing deadlines and one where things aren’t what they seem to be. Light, it was discovered, is a wave and a particle, darkness is simply the absence of light, non- living objects are not as still as they seem but under the scanner they house millions of living organisms and every stone itself has gazillion atoms vibrating and spinning around their elliptical orbits at the same time. Dualities and paradoxes exist as an intrinsic part of nature.
It is safe to say that movement in what is stationary can be proven but finding stillness in movement must be experiential. Movement and Stillness may seem contradictory ideas but Einstein himself believed that ‘contradictory values are complimentary’. A most wonderful experience I had recently, confirmed this very theory. A few days ago, I walked into a Tango workshop in the city. Having never ever done the style, I was overcome by apprehension at first, but the minute I firmed my intention to ‘drop’ my doubts, than the energy began to ‘rise’ (note the contradictory values complementing each other). Our bodies were soon in movement but each of us were centered, our minds focussed and calm.
The experience of dancing Tango was nothing short of an exquisite session of meditation which took us to a place where nothing existed and even time did not have a say. Over the next two hours our expert teacher Nicholas Sandez from Argentina, who was brought to Calcutta by the BTangoConscious group from Mumbai, guided each pair to do something truly unique- i.e. Strengthen our Intention. “Intention,” he said, “starts from within,” as he kept his hand on his heart, “but is transmitted through our bodies, our arms,” the arms being the point of connection with our partner in Tango. His words were ringing in my ears long after I floated out of his class with a body that felt incredibly light; and a mind that was as clean as a slate. I was IN the moment. We later heard that he had had a similar session with the children from the Welfare Society for the Blind in Alipore and not only did they enjoy the session but picked up the steps swiftly as, “feeling the movement,” came easily to them. They were glowing with happiness after the session.
The question then arose, how do we float into this exquisite place while dancing rising beyond all calculated steps learnt by rote? Could one really slip into Meditation even while in motion?
What is MIM?
The incredible power of Intention is central to Meditation in Motion or MIM as it is known. Meditation is not simply about sitting stationary with your eyes closed, it is about the core values of the practice which are possibly evoked even when in motion. MIM is a practice which has spanned centuries. To some, it may invoke an image of Shiva dancing on the Kailash Mountains or Krishna rejoicing with the Gopis in Vrindavan. It may point in the direction of the ancient Buddhist tradition of ‘Walking Meditation’ where one walks briskly focussing single pointedly on the breath or one may visualize it as the pristine white twirling Sufi saints over the strains of the rabab. The ancients have established a deep connection between Energy and Movement. Energy arises in the body as a result of thought or Intention and that same Intention drives energy or Prana, creating movement in space. When Energy or the Prana Shakti as it is called, awakens in the body, the body itself is guided deep into Asanas that it thought were beyond its capacity.
Meditation in Motion is simply allowing your external movements to guide you on the inward journey. Movement has been classified by human beings into numerous dance forms, Yogasanas or even martial arts, gymnastics, calisthenics and other practices but the underlying similarity lies in the fact that human beings by all means test their physical limits, their mental will and wish to rise beyond both ultimately. Movement cannot be put into pre conceived boxes and when one discovers that possibility of free flowing movement, we can channel our energies into subtle expressions and gestures, mudras and gestures that unite the mind and body while spilling into our everyday lives keeping us centered amidst the chaos.
How do we start MIM?
Invoking the energy, allowing the mind to move inwards.
1. Prepare- Start moving Inwards
It is always preferable that one should practice MIM under supervision and under guidance as it allows us to ‘let go’ fully. Most often than not, it is asked of us to keep the eyes closed to avoid getting distracted by external stimuli. Patanjali spoke about Pratyahara in his eight fold path, which essentially means the withdrawal of senses. Thus closing our eyes and simply focussing our breath in MIM brings the mind into the act of Pratyahara, thus, preparing for the meditative state.
2. Invoke the Energy and Go with the Flow
Once we have taken our awareness to the breath, one should breathe deep to invoke the energy inviting it to take over the body. Let the body respond to the energy from within. Keeping the mind aside, let the energy guide your ever evolving movement. Let there be no hesitation, no ego and an openness with the honest intention to give that movement EVERYTHING you have. Dance Fitness Exponent Aditya of Vive La Salsa believes, ‘That when there is a focus, on rhythm , it allows us to un-focus as a natural flow takes over and then we are truly engrossed, flowing freely, and what we do is seemingly effortless.’ You rise above the movement.
What are the Important things to remember practicing MIM?
1.There are NO mistakes in MIM. Just flow wherever it leads you, steps mean nothing when you are moving towards a higher unified state of mind.
2.Perfection is NOT the goal. On finding inner strength and intuition, one automatically finds a steadiness and perfection in movement which should be the consequence not the ultimate aim.
3.Be free, spontaneous, without any pre-planning, no judgements and open to embracing every feeling or emotion that arises without shying away from it. Just like you dance with abandon when no one is watching, it is the aim of MIM to help you find that dynamic movement with a centered mind so that it would not matter even if a million watched.
4.Trust- Trusting your body to take you though even if there may be times when you feel that you cannot go any further, just let the body move.
5. Dis identification of the body and mind- There may be moments whilst in MIM, you see yourself as third person, neither just as the body nor as the mind or thoughts. MIM helps to dissolve false identity in the same way that deep meditation does. You realize that you are a part of a much larger scheme of things and its humbles you, overwhelms you in a way that makes you see yourself as a large expanse of nothingness and a tiny speck in the universe all at the same time, the seeming contradiction, just like light- you can be both- the wave and the particle.
MIM, some say, ‘is a power non-verbal expression of the sacred.’ This sacred space can be created anywhere, in your room with soft music or when you go running to “clear you head” in the park, or in a Yoga, meditation or dance class. Meditation in Motion allows you to live life, experience all of its challenges, and experience this chaotic, mind-boggling, frenzied world fully, where nothing is real but everything seems to be. We learn to accept the world’s ever-changing nature by find an unseen magic, a steadiness within our heart allowing Meditation in Motion to transform us but only if we let it.