Thursday, July 30, 2009

Meditation and exercise - a Western Medicine perspective

In a monastery, monks spend long periods of time in meditation or prayer. This is very similar to what we do during Sesshin. As far as the body is concerned, there is no difference between Meditation or Prayer, keep still and quiet...

But monks, Buddhists or Christians, work physically and vigorously, gardening, cleaning, building... This helps loosen their joints and stretch tendons and muscles.

During Sesshin, people who usually have sedentary jobs with little physical activity, sit (shikantaza) for long periods. Their joints freeze and lock up.

Too much quiet and stillness results in stiffness and physical pain. This aggravates the mind which becomes restless. However, too much action has the same effect (until exhaustion occurs – but this is an other story which we will cover later about Kendo.)

Here again, the opposites meet. What is important is to find a middle way.

The practice of meditation should incorporate proper exercises to help alleviate the stiffness and pain due to immobility. Because the mind better operates in a slightly energized body, these exercises should not be violent or mobilize huge muscle masses but rather concentrate on stretching joints and tendons.

Tai Chi with its slow and ample moves is an excellent solution.

1 comment:

Julie said...

im going to this meditation event for health care professionals