When you think about the practice of meditation, you may automatically picture yourself sitting or lying down, but meditating while walking is another useful option. You’ll be able to develop proficiency as well as getting in some healthful exercise.
Consider these benefits of walking meditation and suggestions for how you can get started:
Benefits of Walking Meditation
1. Learn a popular technique. Walking meditation is a common variation that you’re likely to encounter at many retreat centers. By getting acquainted with this method, you’ll be ready to join in, and experience the benefits, which will help you to be consistent.
2. Get off to a good start. Beginners may find it uncomfortable to sit still for long periods. Taking a stroll provides a different approach to launching a meditation practice, and is accessible to nearly everyone.
3. Reduce agitation. When stress builds up, you may prefer to keep moving around. Rather than skipping a session completely, just stay on your feet and enjoy the dual benefits of meditation and walking.
4. Manage fatigue and sleepiness. It’s easy to nod off if you were up all night finishing a report or nursing a sick child. Remaining erect is likely to keep you more alert until you can get the rest you need. Remaining awake will also help you develop a different kind of focus, and walking is healthy activity.
5. 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 that can be repeated multiple times each week.
6. 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 to Practice Walking Meditation
1. Create a path. Lay out a route for yourself. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. Lower your eyes. Try keeping your eyes half shut and soften your focus – try to aim 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, try to relax and enjoy the scenery.
5. Position your arms. Lower your shoulders and let your arms hang easily along the side of your body. You could also clasp your hands gently in front of your lower abdomen.
6. Welcome a smile to your face. Let a smile well up from within as your endorphin levels rise from the activity. Visualize pleasant and soothing images like flower gardens, snowy mountains, or another scene that represents ease and positivity to you.
7. Quiet down. Leave your earphones at home, or choose softer, slower music with few or no words. Put aside thinking about your plans for the evening, or re-playing the day’s activities. Observe the stillness in your mind and try to relax.
8. Take full breaths. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm – you could even try to count slowly and extend the count – say, three counts in, then three counts out, and try to extend the count as long as it’s comfortable to do so. Feel your abdomen rise and fall. Gradually synchronize your footsteps and your breath in whatever pattern is natural and sustainable – try not to overexert yourself or cause panting.
9. Prepare for sitting meditation. Walking meditation can be 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. An example could be walking from your home or office to a public library, where a quiet environment awaits.
10. 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.
You can diversify your practice by meditating while walking. It will help you apply mindfulness to more of your daily routine so that you can enjoy greater peace and contentment.