What is Walking Meditation? A simple and universal practice that unites our body and mind through our breath for mindfulness and stress reduction.
This practice will help you to connect deeply to your true inner self. In this meditation method, you take note of your current feelings and emotions within your mind and body.
The purpose of such awareness is not to try to change any of the states but, to make you aware of your bodily sensations and your current spiritual state. Awareness is the first thing to take care of if you want to bring a change and healing into your life.
Walking Meditation Instruction
Study after study find that meditation provides a wealth of benefits for your body, mind, and soul. It naturally reduces stress and lowers blood pressure. It builds focus and memory. But what if you’ve tried meditation and just can’t sit still? What if you have medical issues that cause great pain if you attempt to sit or even lie down stationary for a long period of time?
For these, and for a thousand other reasons, walking meditation should be a critical part of every person’s tool kit of useful skills.
Why Learn About Walking Meditation?
Walking meditation involves bringing yourself into a meditative state while moving through an area. You are no longer trapped like a bald saffron-robed monk in a high tower of a Himalayan monastery. Instead, you are roaming freely through a beautiful wood with birds singing high in the trees and the sun glistening down through the leaves. Maybe you are strolling along a river walk, taking in the ducks as they skim along the water’s surface. It could be you are mindfully navigating a labyrinth through a garden, watching as its twists and turns take you ever more closely toward its center.
That is the beauty of walking meditation. It can be done anywhere. At any time. Even in the comfort of your own home.
How Does A Walking Meditation Work?
Learning how to meditate can often seem very complicated. Meditations can seem to involve special, embroidered cushions of just the right height. An ideal music mp3 is often recommended that has just the right balance of soothing tone and swirly melodies. With walking meditation, though, the world is your soundtrack. Nature itself provides the atmosphere.
Some people like to do a walking meditation through a city landscape, taking in the full diversity of humanity which forms our global community. Other people prefer to do their walking meditation in a park or garden, where the “civilization” falls away and we connect more closely with the world as it once was.
The beauty of walking meditations is that you don’t have to limit yourself to just one option. One day you can choose to walk through an awe-inspiring art museum, pausing before each object to draw in its unique message. On another day you can walk through a quiet forest, allowing each rustle of leaf-on-branch to pull you further into your mindfulness.
And some days you can walk in quiet loops around your home, letting the rain showers outside gently wash away any worries and concerns. All that matters is the heel-arch-toe. Heel-arch-toe.
When you think about meditation, you may automatically picture yourself sitting down, but meditating while walking is another useful option. Consider these benefits of walking meditation and suggestions for how to 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.
2. 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.
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.
4. Manage fatigue. 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.
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.
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.
VIDEO: Walking Meditation: Instructions and Benefits Explained
Walking meditation is a great practice for those of us who experience pain or discomfort when doing sitting meditation. At full-day retreats, it is common to interchange sitting and walking meditation so that one hour sitting meditation is followed by half an hour walking meditation.
Walking meditation can increase our concentration and mindfulness especially when our mind is extremely distracted or agitated. In this video, I give some simple instructions on my favorite walking meditation technique and I explain the benefits of practicing walking meditation in general. Mindah-Lee Kumar (The Enthusiastic Buddhist)
Learning to Meditate the Walking Meditation Way
It is helpful to have comfortable walking shoes and comfortable clothes in general for the location you’re going to walk. If you’re able to walk barefoot and want to do that, that is quite fine. The overall focus is to ensure your health and safety are protected.
Choose a location for today’s practice. You can even do it at home if you wish. Walking meditation is a perfect meditation at-home project.
1. Create a path. Layout 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 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.
5. 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.
6. Bring a smile to your face. Let a smile well up from within. Visualize pleasant and soothing images like flower gardens and snowy mountains.
7. Quiet down. Leave your earphones at home. Put aside your plans for the evening. Observe the stillness in your mind.
8. 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.
9. Prepare for sitting meditation. Walking meditation is an ideal transition to sitting meditation. A brief walking meditation session will help you clear your head and dissolve tension in your body so you can concentrate better.
10. Alternate between walking and sitting. Another good use of 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.
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.
FREE Walking Meditation PDF eBook Download!
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Here’s an overview of this important guide:
How you can find your happiness through Walking Meditation!
Learn killer strategies to get into Walking Meditation mode.
Master the essential ‘MUST HAVE’ techniques in Walking Meditation.
Understand the full benefits of Walking Meditation and how they fit into your life.
Learn how to remove the meditation objects of Walking Meditation.
Mindfulness Walking Meditation Script
Beginning Of Script:
When you are ready to begin, stand with your feet hip-width apart and take in a long, deep breath. Let your breath fill your upper chest, your mid-chest, and then your abdomen.
Pause for a moment, savoring the oxygen.
Now breathe out fully, squeezing your lungs and diaphragm to expel the toxins and negativity. You are done with those.
Now breathe in again, longer, deeper, and allow your shoulders to relax. Allow everything to relax. All that matters, for this time period, is yourself and your calm. That is what you are working on. That is your practice for this time period. Everything else will wait.
When you’ve taken a few breaths, it’s time to begin the walking.
Stretch out your right foot and allow the heel to contact the ground, settling you. It is your connection to this Earth we all call home. Roll forward to the arch of your foot. Then, as you move toward the ball of your foot, your balance naturally eases and your left foot comes forward. Let it move. Notice that shift. We do it so many times every day that we take it for granted.
But this shift of balance is key to how everything else works. We balance the halves. We shift from one to another. We are flexible. We are capable of encompassing different options. We are complex and unique and fully realized human beings.
Let the other foot make contact. Notice how it begins its roll. How the other foot comes up. How everything works together. Our complex, intricate bodies do things that are near miraculous. We should learn to treasure and feel gratitude for this.
Keep your attention on your feet. On this contact with the Earth. With this knowledge that we are part of an entire interconnected working of nature and weather and sky and planet. We are all in this together. We are all parts of a larger whole.
Heel. Arch. Ball. Toe.
End Of Script
Infographic: How to Practice Walking Meditation
When you practice walking meditation, you place your entire awareness in the process of walking. Many of us walk to get from one place to the next. We feel pressured to move ahead, to arrive at the destination as soon as possible.
But in the practice of walking meditation, we go for a stroll. We have no destination in mind. The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself. We enjoy the process of walking, not arriving at our destination. Follow the simple steps outlined in this infographic to learn walking meditation.
Brought to you by Soulfularogya.com
Dealing with Distractions
As you move, things will come up around you. Maybe it’s a robin’s song. Maybe it’s the feel of a breeze against your cheek. Maybe it’s the scent of pine. Whatever it is, notice it, acknowledge it, and return your attention to your movement. To the connection of each foot with the Earth.
It could be that some things come up which bother you. Maybe it’s a dog barking. Maybe it’s a car horn honking. Also, acknowledge that and let it move on. The things around us simply are. They are not innately “good” or “bad”. The more we learn to acknowledge them and then let them go, the more we can learn to focus our energies on what truly matters to us.
It will definitely happen that your thoughts drift to random things in your mind. Maybe it’s a to-do list. Maybe it’s an argument you had with someone yesterday. Maybe it’s worrying about tomorrow. This is what the mind does. It leaps and twists. And this is the core aspect of learning how to meditate. When you are learning to meditate, you are training your mind to release its tendency to jump away from the task at hand. You are training it how to focus in on the task of now.
So be gently compassionate with yourself when your thoughts flit away from your footsteps. From your grounding. It’s what minds do and yours is simply doing what comes naturally to it. Smile and gently draw your mind’s attention back to your footsteps. That is what we are doing here. We are building that skill. We are teaching our minds how to hold onto focus just for a little while. Just for a few breaths. And then the mind skips off, like a playful puppy, and we draw it back in again. We guide it to a position of greater strength.
When you are done with your walking meditation, stand still and draw in a few long, deep breaths. Give yourself credit for how you did today, no matter how many distractions wriggled their way into the process. The very act of practicing is what is key here. Every session you practice improves your mind’s strength.
How To Do Meditation At Home – Walking Style
It’s easy for most people to envision how to do a walking meditation at a local park. Many parks have built-in walking trails that guide a person along a route. A person simply has to walk along that route, following the signposts, to be able to make a circuit. The distance and difficulty are clearly laid out.
But how does one do a walking meditation at home?
The key is to be creative and mindful. You don’t have to go far. If you have multiple rooms, you can make explorations of them. It doesn’t really matter what is in those rooms since your intention is to focus on your heel, arch, ball, and toe. Even if you have just one room, you can do gentle loops around it. It doesn’t matter where you go. All that matters is that there is space for a heel, arch, ball, and toe to connect.
If you enjoy variety, and you have multiple sections of a room or house to work with, you can add some unique aspects to each one. Maybe have a vanilla candle in one room and a cinnamon candle in another room. Maybe one room can be in bright sunlight and the other has the shades drawn for a darker experience.
Perhaps have you have soft music playing in one room. Anything like that gives your mind some different experiences to work with. The purpose of all of it is to help you train your mind to retain its focus on your feet. On your steps. On your connection with the ground beneath you.
The Best Way to Meditate – Walking Style
As we’ve discussed, walking meditation can be done pretty much anywhere, at any time, in any situation. The only things to think about involve your own safety. If it’s a dangerous area of an inner-city, I might not suggest walking in the middle of the night. If it’s a rocky path, I might not recommend wearing four-inch high heels. But other than that, as long as you keep an eye on your safety and healthy, pretty much anything is fair game.
The important part is not where you are. It’s not what is around you. It’s the fact that you are training your brain to return to your steps. To focus on your feet.
That being said, some beginners sometimes become fairly “robotic” in how they walk. They are stilted and hyper-attentive to how their feet connect. They walk unnaturally in order to focus on each microsecond of the process.
As much as possible, walk naturally. Yes, walk slowly. For some people who are used to speed-walking everywhere, this will be a challenge. It’s a good challenge.
It’s good to learn how to slow down, take a breath, and savor each moment. So if you are currently a speed-walker for whatever reason, see this as training in a new style of walking. But, other than that, try to walk naturally. Try to walk at a gentle rhythm. The aim is not to “stilt” your walking but to be mindfully aware of the footsteps.
Walking meditations have been done in every culture, in every part of the world, since the beginning of time. Pilgrimages and foot travel are a built-in aspect of who we are. Add walking meditation into your regular practice as one way to reconnect with who we are and where we are going.
You’ll find that its strengths and benefits are quite vast, and it provides another way of approaching meditation and mindfulness which heal the body and soothe the soul. Namaste.