Some of you may already practice meditation techniques as part of your daily routine. This may take place with yourself sitting down, with eyes closed and focusing on your breathing etc. A slight shift on this could be meditating while walking. I am not talking about walking with your eyes closed but think about it as walking with purpose – to get at one with the nature around you.
Why would you want to try walking meditation?
- Get off to a good start. Beginners may find it uncomfortable to sit for long periods. Taking a stroll provides a different approach to launching a meditation practice.
- Reduce agitation. When stress builds up, you may prefer to keep moving around. Rather than skipping a session completely, just stay on your feet.
- Manage fatigue. It’s easy to nod off if you were up all night finishing a report or nursing a sick child. Remaining walking is likely to keep you more alert until you can get the rest you need.
- Exercise more. Meditation can be good for your body as well as your mind. Every bit of physical activity counts when it comes to staying fit. A walking meditation of 15 minutes to an hour is a gentle, but effective, workout. You can get your steps in!
- Integrate mindfulness into ordinary activities. One purpose of meditation is to develop a clearer mind that you can rely on all day long. When you get used to walking while meditating, you’ll become more skilled at generating positive thoughts in any setting.
How can you start
- Consider creating a walking route. You could walk around your living room or visit a local park. If you stick to an area you know well, it will be easier to minimize distractions. Go with what works for you. Sometimes I just go out and see where I end up. Hopefully, this will not be too far away from where you physically start.
- Focus on your feet. Start out by noting each step. Over time, you’ll become more aware of the many individual movements involved. Imagine that your soles are caressing the earth.
- Pace yourself. Most people find that a slower pace is conducive to becoming more deliberate and attentive. You may want to start out walking the way you usually do and gradually ease up.
- Lower your eyes. Try keeping your eyes half shut and softly aimed at the ground a couple of feet ahead of you. If you’re in a spot where there are too many obstacles to do this, relax and enjoy the scenery.
- Position your arms. Lower your shoulders and let your arms hang easily along the side of your body. Clasp your hands gently in front of your lower abdomen.
- Smile. Let a smile well up from within. Visualize pleasant and soothing images like flower gardens and snowy mountains. This has an amazing effect on people that are passing you. Ask yourself – would you like to be greeted by a smiley face or a grumpy one….
- Quiet down. Leave your earphones at home. Put aside your plans for the evening. Observe the stillness in your mind.
- Take full breaths. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Feel your abdomen rise and fall. Gradually synchronize your footsteps and your breath in whatever pattern is natural and sustainable.
- Prepare for sitting meditation. Walking meditation is an ideal transition to a sitting meditation. A brief walking meditation session will help you clear your head and dissolve tension in your body so you can concentrate better.
- Alternate between walking and sitting. Another good use for walking meditation is to make it a supplement to your sitting practice. If your foot gets a cramp or you just want to move around, meditating on your feet will help you extend your practice time.
Of course, the usual health and safety applies – be aware of the environment that you are walking – and enjoy that space. Be aware of the dangers (like cars, lorries and holes in the ground).