Why Does Your Body Move When Your Mind Doesn’t?

Why do we have to get up and go to the toilet on a daily basis? Because we have to keep moving, keep on pushing. The mind may be content as it is, but without the urge to move there is not much reason for the body to stay in one position.

For some bizarre reason, we constantly have to keep moving, and the reason is often the lack of mental movement. If we are in a happy mood, we tend to keep our feet moving. If we are sad, we tend to lean back in our chairs or lie in bed and keep our posture. If you watch a baby crawling, it’s not because her legs are working and moving. The baby crawls because the legs and the hips are there as the urge to move and get closer. The mind, though, is not just a collection of facts and numbers and logic. It is not there to keep you moving; it is there to keep you happy or happy enough so your body can keep moving.

When you think about it in this way, it makes more sense to take mental practice seriously than to spend years and years of your life staring at a computer screen or sitting by yourself doing nothing.

The practice of meditation is not just the act of putting down the thoughts as you are thinking about them or moving around to see if you can find a good meditation posture, but also about what you are thinking about at that moment. You have to think about your goals, about what you want to achieve, about what you want to do next. What are your plans? What are you going to eat next? Your mind is thinking about all of these things and how much these things matter to you; and so is the mind of your wife or children or friends or loved ones, and so are all of the bodies with which you share this world.

Meditating has a way of stopping the wandering mind from wandering into thoughts that carry a sense of dissatisfaction or dissatisfaction about the present moment. It is like getting out of an airplane that is on autopilot. I have met people who sit on the beach staring at the ocean, or driving along the freeway, or playing golf or eating something, but it never occurs to them that they should get up and move the way that they are doing it at the moment. The thought is out of their mind.

At first, with the thought, it seems like the practice isn’t going anywhere. You just sit back somewhere and do nothing, but it doesn’t take long for the mind to drift. You start noticing you are not seeing a particular target, or that all of the objects around you become blurred as you look. Your body is starting to feel uncomfortable, and as the mind is drifting off into thoughts of the past, you realize that this is exactly what you are trying to avoid. All of your attention is drifting away so that you can focus it on something else that really matters.

It’s funny to be in deep thought and realize that the moment you realize it the mind has been drifting in circles for three days. When the mind is not moving, the body, at home in the middle of the universe, is not so much a body as a collection of atoms and molecules and energy. When the mind starts moving towards a given goal like becoming better at meditation, it is a big step for the mind to accept the idea of doing something as opposed to sitting there doing nothing. This is a good thing. If we want to do something, we have to move. If we want to be happy, we have to move.

One could say that this is why we should be meditating. If all of us sat around in one spot, sitting in meditation for a few hours a day, we would all have the same amount of movement. Maybe some people are more fit and more flexible than others, but most people would have the same amount of movement and they would all be just sitting.

When you think about it, the difference is that you wouldn’t want to do anything other than sit.