7 Ways to Meditate While You Move

You don't have to be still and quiet to meditate; you can even get the benefits of meditation while singing. (Photo: Eugenio Marongiu/Shutterstock)

The most wonderful thing about meditation — besides its effectiveness in improving mental and physical health — is that it's endlessly flexible. While sitting meditations are probably the most common way to practice quieting your mind, there are several styles of meditation, from transcendental, spiritual, guided, mindfulness, focused — including movement-based.

Yes, you can meditate while moving.

Usually, it involves doing something repetitive and simple — so that while you're moving, you can also kind of lose yourself and find stillness inside. Anything that helps you focus on your breath (or at least won't interfere with focusing on it) is a positive too.

legs of man hiking in the woods
You can practice walking meditation wherever you can let down your guard and stroll. (Photo: KieferPix/Shutterstock)

Walking: If you've ever enjoyed walking in a labyrinth and found yourself in a calm, mindful state, you've done a walking meditation. (In fact, labyrinths were originally created for meditation.) You don't need a labyrinth to accomplish this though, and while a familiar path is best, you can can do it almost anywhere it's safe to let your guard down and stroll. It's fairly easy to begin a walking meditation; give it a try.

Drawing: Drawing can certainly get you into a flow state, which is similar to meditation, but if you don't already draw, you might want to try Zentangle, in which you build images through repetitive patterns. As Maria Popova writes on BrainPickings: "Each pattern is built one line at a time, organically combining simple patterns into complex zentangles in unplanned, unexpected ways that grow, change and unfold on the page as you enter an immersive state of flow."

Coloring: Coloring books have gained popularity over the last few years, and one of the reasons why is their meditative benefits. When I asked friends about why they enjoyed coloring, several mentioned meditation, which surprised me. MNN's Robin Shreeves wrote: "When I'm doing [coloring books], I don't think about anything but colors." Unlike drawing or painting, coloring doesn't require any previous knowledge or ability to get started, which could be a stumbling block for some.

Singing: Meditation via song is an ancient spiritual tradition in several faiths. In fact, even today song can be one of the primary means of prayer in Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, Sufism and Hinduism as well as interfaith practices for singing meditation. Singing's inherent focus on the breath, and the repetitive words and rhythms makes it a way for those who are musically inclined to reach a meditative state, especially once the music is familiar.

Housework: Certain household chores feel automatic by the time you reach adulthood, right? Vacuuming, washing dishes, folding laundry, or any other relatively repetitive chore can all provide a time to breathe more consciously and to clear the mind while getting stuff done. Use the same basic techniques as you do when you are sitting for a meditation — whenever outside thoughts intrude, gently push them away, focusing on your breath and the quiet movement of your hands.

Yoga: People often associate yoga as something you do before or after meditation, but if you're familiar with some basic poses, it can become a meditation in itself. A slower pace, and holding poses for extended periods of time can facilitate a more meditative experience. I took a recent restorative yoga class and about 10 minutes in, I felt as if I were doing a sitting meditation yet moving slowly through it. It was amazing and I felt wonderful afterwards, both stretched and physically relaxed, as well as mentally calm.

Swimming: Personally, this is one of my favorite active ways to meditate. I've even said that "swimming is my yoga" when I show up to hang out with friends with wet hair from the pool. I'm not sure how meditative it would be for someone who isn't comfortable in the water, but as long as you can do a breaststroke without nerves, swimming meditation is easy. You'll probably automatically focus on your breathing as you swim, and paying attention to the feel of water over your limbs and the sensation of how your hands or feet break the surface of the water are all mindfulness practices.