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Walking Man

We've all heard tai chi or yoga described as moving meditation. And I've written in the past about walking meditation. Whether it's meditation or meditative, movement is not anathema to the basic precepts of meditation. Quite to the contrary, it's all good!

But before we go any further, first a word about the tremendous song that serves as the inspiration for this post-- "Walking Man"-- and the incredible artist who wrote and sang it, James Taylor. JT is the man, and for me, his music is very meditative. Please allow me to elaborate.

In a recent post, I touched upon the distinction between focused meditation and open meditation ("Express Yourself"). For those of us who may be interested, I would also suggest that there is a distinction between formal meditation and being meditative. They're both really important-- but both really different.

In a word, being meditative is about noticing our thoughts and emotions, while meditation is about processing our thoughts and emotions. What is more, learning to notice is a skill we can hone while we're being still, or while we're moving. Learning to process the thoughts or emotions that we notice, on the other hand, is something that can only be learned in the stillness of meditation.

The bottom line is that learning to notice is something we can do privately, while publicly doing something that doesn't attract the attention of others. Outwardly, we can be running, swimming, lifting or rowing (fill in your favorite form of exercise) while inwardly, we can be focused on noticing what it is we're thinking, or feeling.

The more strenuous the exercise or activity we're engaged in, the more we'll be required to monitor the functioning of the body, but the ability to notice thought and emotion will never be entirely preempted-- in point of fact, it may even become more acute, as our physical conditioning improves.

Which is a long way of saying that learning to notice-- to be meditative-- is a necessary step in the direction of formal meditation, and for anyone who may be skeptical about formal meditation, it's a great way to get started. Learning to notice is 100% private and our outward-facing exercise, or action, won't ever "give up the game".

As for learning to process the thoughts and emotions that we notice-- learning to better manage them-- I refer you to a couple earlier posts this month ("At The Zoo" and "Anchors Aweigh")-- the discussion in those pieces won't be repeated here, but they convey insight into what I think of as the "special sauce" of meditation.

Suffice it to say that the walking man may not stop and talk, for a reason -- maybe he's preoccupied with noticing!


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