Is It Really Meditation If It’s Sweaty?

Mina Samuels
6 min readDec 6, 2023

I chase sweat. I love activities that make my heart beat strong and fast and provoke sweat. I have long felt that many of my sweaty activities were akin to a meditation-running outdoors, dancing, the flow of mountain biking on a trail, cross country skiing. They are activities that can simultaneously focus the mind and unhook the mind from its usual patterns.

Back in May, when I lost my meditation streak (which I wrote about here), I counted my 5Rhythms dance group as a meditation the first day I forgot to meditate. At the time, I felt like I was playing fast and loose with the definition of meditation. So, it seemed appropriate when a few days later I forgot to meditate again and ended my streak. As if the universe was catching my fast-loose-ness and correcting the error.

Then, a few weeks ago, I was in a training about how to use Internal Family Systems in psychedelic-assisted therapy, and the trainer mentioned that traditional seated meditation worked less well for her than moving meditations, like dancing, because she felt more in touch with her body and the feminine flow of movement. Oh, I thought. As if she had given me permission to approach meditation more expansively.

In the same week, I went to a three-day, silent-ish meditation retreat. Silent, because we were not allowed to speak to each other. Silent-ish, because there were moving meditations, so vigorous they left me drenched in sweat. We also made a lot of loud noise. One of the moving meditations we did each day was Osho’s dynamic meditation. I was dubious at first. I’m not an Osho devotee and resist gurus. Despite which, I loved this meditation. It lasts an hour and has five parts. The first is 10 minutes of chaotic breathing. The second is 10 minutes of cathartic explosion, using body and voice. The third is 10 minutes of jumping and vocalizing the word hoo. The fourth is 15 minutes of stillness. And the fifth part is 15 minutes of dancing. I felt like I’d been waiting for this meditation all my life. So much permission.

I have always missed the vibrancy of connecting to my vital energy in movement when I’ve been at silent retreats in the past. I have memories of going out for a run at one retreat, only to encounter the glares of two women out walking (silently, separately and slowly) in the woods. As if running…

--

--

Mina Samuels

Writer. Performer. Citizen. Traveler. Enthusiast. Author of Run Like a Girl 365 Days A Year and other books. www.minasamuels.com