Invocations from the Body: Movement as Meditation

Through a life-long love of dancing and a long-term Yoga practice, I have become increasingly fascinated with movement as a form of meditation and prayer; I have also come to realise what a powerful tool meditative movement is in enabling a greater awareness not only of our life-force but also of our connection to the Divine.

In Druidry we understand this force as Nwyfre; in Yoga as Prana. What I find exciting is that we can connect to this energy in both stillness and movement. In Yoga, postures (Asana) and breathing exercises (Pranayama) are used to increase the presence and free flow of Prana/Nwyfre in the body. You don’t need to have practised Yoga for years to feel how this works – stop reading, take in a deep breath whilst having a good stretch and as you release these, notice how wonderful it feels and be aware of the sudden increase in energy flowing through you. This is Nwyfre. Mostly we ignore this feeling or pass over it quickly but the art of Yoga and other forms of meditative movement is to allow ourselves to become utterly absorbed in this process. In this act of focused fascination – of being totally present in our breath and movement – we come to strongly sense the reality of this energy; we learn to sense when it flows strongly and when it is depleted. Whether we approach the Light Body exercise from a place of stillness or movement actually doesn’t matter; the key is this focused awareness, being utterly present in each and every part of our body. In this vibrant state, we discover that the physical body is the gateway to our deeper selves and ultimately to the Divine.

When we engage with the body spiritually – with a loving and sensitive awareness and acceptance – we give ourselves the space to process things that might otherwise stay locked within us, perhaps sabotaging our attempts to grow. Through the many emotions and sensations that surface within our bodies daily, we are given the opportunity to learn a little more about ourselves and life. Sometimes these sensations and emotions can remain unprocessed and be stored in our bodies – particularly in the muscles – knots of tension that are the physical manifestation of a deeper psychological discomfort; these knots can limit the easy flow of Nwyfre in our systems. In using breath and movement – mindfully stretching and releasing – we help to clear physical and emotional channels, allowing the free movement of energy to flow through us more powerfully, strengthening and energising our whole beings. As we build a greater intimacy with our physical selves, we develop the potential to truly listen to what the body has to say. Both pain and rigidity or even pleasure and ease of movement, will tell us something important about where we find ourselves physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The more we listen to the body, the more we recognise the interconnectedness of these states within us.

In my own physical Yoga practice I use a mixture of individual asana and vinyasa. Vinyasa are flowing sequences of postures moving one into the other. These appeal to the dancer in me and illustrate most clearly the powerful links between meditation, prayer, worship and movement. The most well know vinyasa is popularly called Salute to the Sun, or Surya Namaskar to give its Sanskrit name. Sun Salutations honour something dear to all Druids’ hearts: the vitality, joy and life-giving energy of the Sacred Sun. When I fully open myself to the dynamic flow of this vinyasa, I feel that I give praise with my whole body and being, and in doing so, open myself up to the qualities that I am honouring. My body becomes an expression of the sun’s strength, energy and creativity; my body becomes a celebration of life. When the heat of movement and the focus of mind and breath merge in seamless flow, I feel that I am a body of light. It’s important to stress that some days I feel tired and achy, my body heavy and as far away from dynamic flow as it is possible to get! It is then that I can sink into the stillness to feel the gentle hum of that light; there is pleasure in contrast.

I currently feel increasingly inspired to experiment with my own vinyasa, with the understanding that these are invocations from the body, viewing their creation as a kind of spiritual choreography. This spiritual engagement with my body I have come to perceive as a form of Sacred Dance. Like all joys of the body, be it dance, sex, music or song, I truly believe that through deep and ecstatic engagement with our physical selves, we can find a path through to the Divine. Watch children when they dance in that wonderfully unselfconscious way – totally absorbed in the exhilaration of the moment. They seem to glow – it’s as if you can actually see their little light bodies! Some might think that meditative and ecstatic states are very different experiences but for me there is a rather nice paradox here: in movement we come to a place of peaceful stillness and balance; at the heart of that stillness and balance, we feel the unending dance of life coursing through us. Whether we surrender into the stillness or embody the flow, we open to something greater than ourselves.               

The beauty of a spirituality that embraces the body is that we are given the opportunity to truly appreciate what a profound privilege it is to be ‘embodied’. In joyful and mindful movement – with gravity our wise and loyal partner in the dance – we are both grounded and boundless; muscle and bone and radiant light.












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