Sitting in Movement

Every Monday night I go to a movement class.  The movement can be anything.  It can be stillness, like sitting cross-legged and still, or wild movements that spread wide and fast around the room.  It’s called Mandhala Sacred Movement, and the way to go about it is to be still and check in with how your body wants to move.

I think that this type of exercise is very nice with how it relates with Vipassana daily sits.  I have some friends, both Vipassana-goers and not, who don’t like the movement class.  On the Vipassana side, they don’t want to mix it up with the practice of sitting.  On the other side, they don’t understand what it means to move how your body wants to move.

What I get out of the dance is an investigation into my depth.  Usually I am applying Vipassana while moving, whether quickly or in stillness.  Vipassana is one of the best tools for investigating oneself, and I think those who don’t have this tool would have more trouble to investigate while moving.  It is different then Vipassana, because you’re allowed to move and encouraged to listen to how your body wants to do that.  I can see why that would cause some to avoid it, as it differs from sitting without physical movement.

The benefit of this class, for me, is that it gives me a little leeway.  It’s more of a push and pull game with my craving and aversion and chattering mind, then a game of sitting still and watching.  I am always watching and listening to myself in this movement class.  I can move if it feels right, yet I am seeing if I am moving based on some conditioning or if it is a freeing movement in itself.  It is an act of listening and learning.

I think one gets a lot out of being very still for no matter what arises.  That is a deeper way to develop equanimity and this calmness.  Yet, just leaving the space for anything to happen, with the attention to whatever comes, is also an act of equanimity and of change.  I sat on the floor mid-dance last night and a thought came.  It stated, “It’s silly you still think it doesn’t change.”  There, amidst my movement, was the clearest viewing of how everything changes and how the ‘I’ is always expecting what it knows.  Sometimes something like this can be a new way of seeing how we sit, or how to use our sits in another way.

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About Ryan Shelton

While I'm currently married to a beautiful woman while teaching physics at Padua Academy, these descriptors fail to capture the totality of my adventurous life. I have hiked over 1700 miles, traveled to 5 continents, managed a bakery, started a meditation center, counseled troubled teens, attended Duke, UNC, and Harvard, protected forests as a wildland firefighter, volunteered thousands of hours with Americorps, rafted the Grand Canyon, SCUBA dived on the Great Barrier Reef, and continues to find new adventures. I hope my writing encourages you to pursue your dreams and be the best version of yourself while supporting your communities to work together to solve the current challenges in our world.

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