Can Juggling and Mindfulness Meditation Complement Each Other?

I read this article about mindfulness today and it got me thinking about how juggling might be two different aspects of the same activity.

I think they both help focus the attention. There a number of articles on the web which essentially say that juggling can be a sort of meditation.

I know hardly anything about the default mode network (DMN) in the brain, but from what little I know, I suspect that both juggling and mindfulness meditation could disrupt the DMN. There’s a published study showing that meditation tends to reduce DMN activity. That would be a good thing. The DMN has been described as a brain network which may tend to lead to mind wandering and self-related thinking. That may not be the healthiest way to use your time.

I’ve been doing mindfulness meditation for about 9 years now. I still sometimes wonder whether I’m “doing it right.” On the other hand, when I miss more than a day or two of mindfulness practice, I notice that I feel more edgy and out of sorts. When I return to mindfulness practice daily, I notice less of that scattered and nervous mental state.

I took up juggling last October and I notice that it does something similar to mindfulness. I have to pay close attention to what I’m doing while I’m juggling. Otherwise, I just drop balls constantly.

Just searching the web with the question “Is there a juggling meditation?” turns up quite a lot of articles. Some suggest that juggling is a kind of “moving meditation.” That reminds me of the walking meditation, which I’ve referred to as the “walking dead meditation,” based on my Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) course in 2014. At the retreat toward the close of the course, we did this walking meditation thing, which for all the world seemed to more than a few learners as resembling the way zombies walk.

I think I’d have a tough time trying to juggle like a zombie walks. You can’t be herky-jerky when you juggle, you know. I guess that’s why you never see a zombie juggle. Zombies don’t meditate either, probably because they’re too busy looking for brains to munch on.

Now I get the urge to juggle when I feel the need to clear my head. It’s reinforcing for learning new juggling tricks. Sena is learning juggling now and her efforts remind me of the challenges I had. One of them is learning how to let go of the damn ball in a pattern like the three-ball cascade. You get stuck at certain stages. I hit several walls learning the cascade. And then there came a day when I just started doing the pattern right, often because I just let go.

That reminds me of a quote by Juggleman about juggling, “Doing it wrong makes you an artist.”

I’m probably doing mindfulness the way I ought to be “doing” it. Nowadays, the way I judge that is by noticing I feel better when I stick to it.

Author: James Amos

I'm a retired consult-liaison psychiatrist. I navigated the path in a phased retirement program through the hospital where I was employed. I was fully retired as of June 30, 2020. This blog chronicles my journey.

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