The Advantages of Active Meditation
by Tommaso Palumbo
With words we may say everything, but our body never lies.
Most of us know that the regular practice of meditation can help decrease anxiety and improve emotional stability. However, many are unaware of the many added benefits of active meditation.
But, what’s active meditation? Active meditation is a form of meditation that integrates ‘static’ components of traditional meditation, like correct posture, breathing and visualisation, with ‘active’ ones, like gentle body movements.
Research carried out at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital in Sheffield (UK), the US National Institute of Health and Harvard’s Women’s Health Watch, have already shown that gentle bodywork slows the heart rate and lowers blood pressure.
Moreover, it is effective against arthritis, bone loss and ageing and has a positive effect on diabetes, lower back pain and depression.
As a psychologist and teacher of meditation, I have been seeing people suffering from stress and anxiety for more than twenty years and, during the course of the first nine years, I have employed different approaches to help them overcome their problems: from hypnosis to transactional analysis, and from humanistic counselling to cognitive-behavioural therapies (i.e. CBT or REBT).
The application of the above models did not allow me to embrace the whole person, though. It was easy to identify archetypes, symptoms, thought patterns and behaviours, but I could as easily lose touch with the real persons sitting in front of me!
To remedy that, in January 2000, I created Open CBT, a new integrative approach whose practical application consists of a 15-step person care process that addresses the three components that make up a human being (physical sensations, emotions and thoughts).
Addressing my clients’ problems by adopting the above approach has given me considerable professional satisfaction. However, I knew that there still was something missing: my model was only a talking cure and I was not working with people’s bodies.
In a moment of clarity, one morning in May 2005, while I was engaged in the very mundane act of driving from Firenze to Siena, a vision of active meditation ‘materialised’ in my mind.
I have always believed that human beings are a unity of body & mind and have personally experienced the benefits of practices like yoga, tai chi, and shiatsu. So, I had been ready for the next step forward for a long time: I was only waiting for my moment of full awareness.
So, I put together and began practising regularly Peaceflow, my active meditation routine, which consists of a warm up and seven sequences (one for every day of the week).
Peaceflow is different from traditional forms of gym exercises, or practices like Tai chi, because:
• it is easy to learn;
• its movements are easy to remember;
• everybody can practise it, regardless of their age, shape and how fit they are;
• movements are not set in stone but allow for personal variations;
• it is relaxing and pleasurable, unlike the stressful efforts so often associated with gym exercises;
• it frees us from the curse of the mirror, that is we can forget about how we look and focus purely on our wellbeing;
This is how Peaceflow, my active meditation routine, comes about. Since the summer of 2005, I have taught it, as an added tool, only to my counselling clients. I have now decided to begin teaching it to all and have just started delivering one-to-one classes.
Yes, I know, it has taken me almost twelve years to open up, but some things only happen when they are meant to.
For further info on Tommaso Palumbo, please visit:
Tommaso’s ‘Handbook of Active Meditation: Peaceflow in action.’ is available
from Amazon in paperback and e-book format.