Stillness in Motion
Time: Five minutes.
When: Anytime you are rested and unhurried.
Find a place to sit that gives you the sense of being firmly planted. Your pelvis has support but you are free to move your torso. Chairs can be useful because your feet are on the ground.
Let yourself rock a little in any manner, back and forth or side to side. This is the same movement people make when they are restless, or can’t make up their minds. The movement comes from that same instinctive place.
Let this movement segue into a circle. Your tailbone is on the seat, but upwards from there your torso is orbiting around.
Stay with the circle and allow your senses of balance and motion to engage with the movement you are in. This may take anywhere from a few seconds to a minute. When it feels natural, close your eyes and continue.
As you are moving, you will find your kinesthetic senses tracking the movement. Have a sense of curiosity about what you will experience, and continue.
Over a period of time, you will probably find yourself wanting to slow the movement. What you can do is let the movement coast to a stop.
Continue to track the movement and notice what happens. If your nervous system is organized enough in the moment to process the experience, the sense of motion may actually become more intense as the physical motion becomes less.
As the movement coasts toward stillness, it may transform into a curious blend of sense of stillness and motion — “still motion.” You will know it when you discover it, because the sensation is liquid and exquisite.
Note: This is a very worthwhile sense to cultivate. When you get it, your whole sense of meditation will be enriched, and “stillness” will seem a very lively event. Give it a chance sometime -- if you fall in love with it immediately, then include a little of it in your daily meditation. If it seems strange to you, return again in a week or a month and check it out again. You won’t be able to do this if you have had a cold or flu recently, or are taking medication that affects the inner ear.
Invisible Motion of the Head
With the eyes open, make the tiniest motion of the head you can notice. The movement could be left-to-right and back or a slight tilting of the chin up and down. Allow the eyes to close -- or not -- of their own accord as you let your senses inform you of this minute movement. (This is an elaboration on the Salute to Balance.)
Continue to track the sense of motion and notice the feelings you have in your skull and elsewhere as your attention engages with the vestibular sense and the joint sensors in the vertebrae of your neck.
You may find yourself taking a few deep breaths as your body settles into tracking mode. Delicate motion of the head is used in hunting and tracking and the body knows well how to do it. The same senses are used in avoiding becoming prey by knowing if you are being tracked. You may find yourself feeling stealthy. Your sense of hearing may open up to detect variations in the silence.
For now, return to the tiny, just-barely-noticeable differences in motion of the neck. Allow your attention to shift back and forth between those sensations and the sensation of breathing if that is what happens naturally. Eventually, your body will quiet itself enough to notice the motion very clearly.
Explore whatever movements you want to make, in any direction.
Note: this exercise tends to evoke lots of stretching. This is because paying attention to the neck, without telling it what to do, gives the neck muscles permission to seek balance. Almost all movements modern people do involve leaning forward: driving, reading, sitting at a desk, child care, manual labor. You will be able to do this exercise much better after stretching.
This brings up a major point: it is good, and a success of meditation, if doing an exercise makes you really restless. Virtually all meditators think they have failed when they do a meditation for two minutes, then get restless and start stretching. But this is a major blessing. What is going on is your body has gone into self-regeneration mode. It is wanting to invent its own yoga postures, which is what stretching is. Think about this sometime, because often what meditators consider their failure is actually a success.
Invisible motion is part of every breath — there are very slight motions of the head with every in and out breath, in addition to the not-so-invisible motion of the ribs expanding and contracting with the breath. Learning to appreciate these minute motions will enrich all your meditative experience. Explore Stillness in Motion on its own, and give your body a chance to get used to it. Then include it in your longer meditations.