Marie Theriault is a Qi Gong and Tai Chi Instructor at The After Cancer.
Meditation offers an abundance of research-based health benefits.
Certainly, stress relief and a desire for peace of mind are primary reasons why people become interested in meditation in the first place. Some other sought-after benefits include lower blood pressure, decreased inflammation, less pain, and stronger immunity.
Despite all the good reasons to meditate, many people find it extremely difficult to sit and calm a busy, overactive mind. There is a scene in the movie Eat, Pray, Love in which Julia Roberts plays a woman who is going through some significant life changes. In one scene, she is trying to sit and meditate with closed eyes. After what seems like an eternity, she opens her eyes to peek at the time, and is quite disappointed to see that only two minutes have passed. She comically gives up in frustration. If you can relate to that struggle, you are not alone! The good news is, there is a solution!
The benefits of mindful movement for cancer survivors.
Mindful movement can bring about many of the same benefits as sitting meditation. A state of peace (and even bliss) can be created without the need to sit still. Slow-paced movement practices such as Qigong and Tai Chi are often referred to as Meditation in Motion, or more recently as Medication in Motion, because of their calming effects.
When the body is moving slowly, the thoughts in the mind will naturally slow down as well. There is focus on synchronizing physical movements with the inhales and exhales of the breath, while the mind pays close attention to the movements and to the breath. The harmony of body, breath, and mind creates a meditative state.
Other benefits of moving meditation include gentle exercise that increases coordination, balance, and flexibility. Calming the mind and loosening up the body improves circulation and has an uplifting effect that eases depression and supports a peaceful night’s rest.
A unique system of self-care.
Mindful movement using Qigong and Tai Chi brings together meditation and exercise into a unique system of self-care. Choreographed sequences consist of gentle stretches that are coordinated with the breath and intention. They are peacefully energizing, restorative, and supportive to healing. Practicing mindful movement creates a meditative state and is a win-win experience that improves physical, emotional, and mental health and easily fits into a daily schedule.