Walking meditation is a bridge between formal sitting meditation and informal meditation in everyday activities. It’s a practice found in both Taoist and Buddhist traditions.
Alternating sitting and walking provide a way to relieve the stress in your body without ever leaving meditation completely. Walking also serves as an antidote to both the tiredness and restlessness that can obstruct meditation.
In walking meditation, we become aware of the movement of each step. It is a way of using a natural part of life to increase mindfulness. Once you learn the practice, you can do it almost anywhere. It helps us feel fully present on the earth.
Walking meditation is easiest in a quiet place without distractions or obstacles. An empty room large enough to walk in circles is suitable. Even better is an unobstructed natural setting, such as a park. This meditation is valuable but more difficult to practice in an urban setting.
Walking meditation health benefits:
Taking a walk a day is kind of like that proverbial apple: There’s a good chance it’ll keep the doctor away. From helping you lose weight and relieve stress to lowering your blood pressure and reducing the risk of many chronic diseases, going for daily walks is one of the best and easiest things you can do for your mental and physical health.
In fact, walking briskly can lower cholesterol and high blood pressure as much as running, according to a study conducted at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Life Science Division in Berkley, Calif. All these conditions are risk factors for heart disease and stroke but fortunately, you can actually do something about them.
When you combine focus and conscious awareness with physical activity, you’re getting fit emotionally and physically at the same time.
Other benefits include:
- because the body is moving, it is simpler to be mindful of the sensations and anchored in the present moment. For this reason, many people find this type of meditation easier than seated meditation.
- it is good for the digestion after a meal, as it reduces drowsiness (food coma) after eating.
- movement can strengthen our awareness and occasionally is a more accessible object for meditation than the breath.
- when done for longer periods of time, it increases strength and stamina, which are important for overall physical fitness.
- when walking and meditation occur outside, the senses can take in the sounds, sights, and aromas of the out-of-doors, giving the mind a focus and a break from what can be a destructive obsession with problems and internal distress.
Here’s a simple set of instructions for one form of walking meditation:
#1 Firstly, find a quiet place with few distractions, good enough for a walking meditation path.
Tip – Stay away from high-traffic and heavily-populated walking areas.
#2 Once you have chosen a suitable path, stand at one end. Stand erect. Put the right hand over the left in front of you. Moreover, it’s important to mention, when walking, to remember to keep the eyes cast down about a meter and a half in front. Don’t be looking around distracted by this or that.
Tip – Don’t walk with your hands behind your back.
#3 As you begin walking, start at a slower pace than usual, especially paying particular attention to the sensations in your feet and legs: lightness, heaviness, pressure, tingling, energy, even pain if it’s present.
Tip – This meditation is not about arriving at your destination or rushing to finish your walk, but simply being mindful that you are walking and that you are breathing. Walk peacefully, with gentle breathing and soft eyes.
#4 Find a rhythm that suits you, your body and your balance. As you move forward, notice your body, notice your hands and arms, your head sitting on your shoulders, your torso, your legs, moving you forward, step by step.
Tip – As you’re walking, it’s quite natural for your mind to wander into thoughts of future or past, simply come back to the practice.
#5 As you meditate, you will have feelings connected with your body and feelings associated with what you see and hear as you are walking. You may have feelings of discomfort, comfort, pain, pleasure, dislike, like, or neutral feelings.
Tip – There are no wrong or right feelings. Accept whatever you feel. You do not have to fight your feelings or try to change them.
Start practicing this meditation for 15 minutes. That is enough to get the flavor. With experience, you can engage in meditation for periods of seconds to hours, and anytime you need to walk.