How to Do Meditation if You have the Attention Span of a Monkey

Moving verse stillness meditation

Moving verses Stillness Meditation

When you sit down to meditate, it is often done as a means to help you separate your thoughts and feelings in order to make sense of things.  It is a way of stopping the mind from rushing about in an aimless (or even a purposeful) stream of thoughts.  The aim of successful meditation is to still the mind and simply BE.

Not judging, not thinking, just being aware, at peace and living each moment as it arises.

Even though meditation plays a vital role in all religions, not all religions will use the word meditation in their practises, and not all meditation has to have a religious connotation to it. 

Fishing, watching a sunset, even running can be a form of meditation. As long as you feel calm and a sense of happiness,  whilst your mind becomes clear and your perception sharpens – then you are meditating.

The Benefits of Meditation:

There are so many studies that have now been done on meditation and its benefits.  These are vast and can include:

  • Decreased stress
  • Higher immunity
  • Improved concentration and better focus
  • Improved self esteem and awareness
  • Greater compassion 
  • The ability to fight addictions.  

This list is by no means all inclusive and there are many more besides these, a simple google search will attest to that.

“Meditation is for the mind, what food is for the body” 

-Buddhist saying

What style of meditation suits you best?

A person sitting on the floor in a cross legged position, hands resting in their lap, eyes closed and and a look of total stillness and peace on their face – this is the most common stereotype we think of when picturing meditating.  

But there are many forms of meditating: yin stillness, yang stillness, yang motion and yin motion are the main kinds, and most forms of meditation will fall into one or a combination of these.

Yin stillness:

This is the stereotypical image of meditation.  Sitting or lying down somewhere comfortable, you focus on one thing, such as your breath, in order to allow the mind to quieten. When you are sitting, your body is in a very relaxed state.

This form of meditation suits people who enjoy being still, have meditated for a while and have developed a certain level of discipline.  Very often people practicing yin stillness are looking at deepening their understanding of their practice.  It is very observational based with a focus on emptiness.

Yang stillness

Similar to the above, when practising yang stillness, you are sitting, lying down or standing still.  

But rather than your primary focus being on quietening the mind, you are more active in your meditation.  You are consciously aiming to achieve movement of energy, such as through guided imagery or visualisation. This is in my opinion better suited to beginner meditators who often find it easier to follow a guided visualisation rather than trying to stop all thoughts. 

Yin motion:

The stillness that comes after a yang movement… Most often done in a standing position when your legs and parts of your body will be tensed but your mind is still.  It helps to remove blockages deep within our connective tissues, allowing qi (energy) to flow unhindered and can help alleviate lower back pain and promote a greater sense of internal stability.  By remaining motionless, body and mind, you can often move into a space of self healing and balance.

Yang motion

An active form of meditation that involves moving the body in alignment with breath and visualisation.   When practising moving meditation it is important to co-ordinate your breathing to be smooth and natural and feel the sensations of the body.

Moving meditations suit people that think a lot, people who are very active and people who find it difficult to sit still.  They are also a great way to meditate if you have a tendency to fall asleep as soon as you sit down. 

Rei-ki-gong: combing different styles of meditation

I was initially taught a combination of yin and yang stillness meditations and practises when I first began studying Reiki.  When practising a Reiki meditation, you find a comfortable place, focus your breath and relax your mind.  Once your mind is relaxed, you start to focus on the flow of energy through the body through specific techniques.  You allow your body to reverberate with this energy flow and go into a deep state of relaxation, rejuvenation, self awareness and healing.  

I had been meditating for years and was comfortable with both yin and yang stillness meditations, but when life happened, along with some unexpected changes, my stress levels increased dramatically.  And with this came a decrease in my ability to sit still, clear my thoughts and relax. 

People would say to me, even a 5 minute meditation is better than nothing.  But 5 minutes felt like 5 hours to me, and I felt like I was hindering rather than helping myself by even trying, followed by guilt, anger and frustration – the very things you seek to avoid when doing Reiki.

That was when the universe spoke through a friend, and I, luckily was open and receptive enough to hear the message that day.  And so began my journey into Qigong.

Qigong has many benefits but it is defined as being the mastery of the life force traveling through our body that connects us to universal qi /energy (spelt as Ki in Japanese teachings).   Achieved through gentle movements that are co-ordinated with breath & visualisation, it is designed to increase health & happiness. 

I used to think that Qigong was a complement to my Reiki practice but now feel that it is simply an extension of my practise.  Since incorporating moving mediation into my daily routine (what I now fondly like to call “My Rei-ki-gong Practise”)  I am able to calm my chaos.  

Not being the kind of person that loves to sweat and push my body to its limit, I enjoy the gentleness of Qigong.  Yet, in saying that I have also noticed with regular practise my cardio is better, my flexibility and stamina are stronger and overall I feel way better physically.  

Mentally, I am stronger and clearer and emotionally I am more stable and grounded.  And with these benefits, I find when doing Reiki, my healings on both myself and others have become stronger and I can sustain longer meditative practises.  

“Once your body is settled you find it easier for your mind to settle.”

– Sylvia

Combining stillness and moving forms of meditation

By combining still and moving forms of meditation will provide you with greater vitality and a sense of deep inner calm that keeps you stress-free and full of energy.  This creates the inner balance and harmony that lead to longevity and a deep sense of purpose in life.

It is the middle path, not the extreme of only physical movement, nor the extreme of no movement at all. 

It is harmony, serenity and flow.

When you are unable to sit still, your mind is running a million miles a minute, I find that by beginning your practice with movement (yang moving meditation), your mind will naturally settle.  And once your mind is settled, you can enter a place of stillness (yin stillness meditation) for a deep and profound meditation experience.