Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Meditating while exercising?

Active meditation is a new term to me. I viewed a report on it last night on one of our few favorite, regular TV shows, “Religion and Ethics Newsweekly” on PBS. (The half-hour show airs at a strange time so we record it for convenient viewing later.) I have always known about the practice of meditation, attempting to sit quietly and emptying my mind in order to reach inside and to God for centering my soul. But I have not known about active meditation. The news report that I viewed described active meditation to be present in even, or especially in, very vigorous physical activities such as kung fu. The report described, as I understand it, active meditation as a method of emptying one’s mind, to live in the moment without thoughts about anytime or anyplace other than where one is at that very moment.

Previously, when I have been jogging or other moving exercise in the mornings or at the gym I have been disappointed that I have been unable to meditate at the same time. Now I see that focusing on the immediate action that I am doing is a form of meditation that empties my mind of all of the extraneous diversions that my mind is encumbered with during its normal multi-tasking activity, including the mundane task of keeping track of time. This “meditating during vigorous physical exercise” is a form of centering. I’m not quite ready to see it as “centering prayer” because there is not yet the perceived connection to the Other in my activity. However, this gives me a new way to contemplate what meditation is and what I am doing when I am engrossed in a specific exercise. Perhaps I gain some “credit” for meditating when I am actively involved in vigorous physical exercise.

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