When most people walk it’s to get from one place to another. The focus is on where you’re going.
But what if you were to change your focus?
What if you concentrated on how your feet and body were moving through space. On how one foot was placed in front of the other? On how your body moved to keep you balanced and upright?
Then you would be practicing walking meditation.
Why Do Walking Meditation
Walking meditation can be an alternative to seated meditation, or a good practice to include with it.
Obviously walking meditation gets your body moving, which is a good thing especially if you sit during most of your day.
It can be used as a transition practice before you do your seated meditation. Doing so can help calm mind and body down so you’ll be better able to sit and meditate.
It can be used after your seated meditation practice gently refreshing and rejuvenating your body and helping your mind prepare to return to the everyday world.
Walking meditation can be done indoors or out, and with or without shoes.
Walking meditation is a good alternative practice for those days when you’re too charged up and sitting meditation is out of the question.
By acknowledging and honoring how you feel, you’ll encounter less resistance when you meet your daily meditation practice goal by walking.
Walking meditation is helpful when you’re feeling anxious. Moving in a deliberate fashion gives you a sense of being in control. The trick is to move as slowly as you can.
Initially that may be a brisk walk, but as your anxiety subsides begin decreasing your pace. Continue doing so as you feel calmer. Enhance that feeling of calm by focusing on your breath.
Sometimes just the physicality of walking slowly helps to reorient and calm your mind.
How to Do Mindfulness Walking Meditation
The simplest walking meditation practice is one of awareness. The focus is on both walking and the experience of walking through a particular space.
It’s a mindfulness practice rather than a narrowly focused meditative one.
You’re being present with what your body is doing as it walks.
You’re aware of where you are, and what is happening in your immediate vicinity.
You’re aware of the sunlight, the smells, and the feeling of the air.
Here’s a video that describes this kind of walking meditation.
How To Do Walking Meditation (Focusing on Your Breath)
The walking meditation I was taught to do involves walking slowly and focusing on your breath as you walk.
Your eyes should be focused on the floor about four or five feet in front of you.
Take a step – breathe in. Take your next step – breathe out.
So you don’t hyperventilate take slow steps and breathe rhythmically.
Like in seated meditation, when you notice your mind wandering or when a thought has captured you, gently bring your focus back to your breath and how it coincides with the movement of your feet.
A similar way to do walking meditation is to switch your focus from your breath to your feet.
Your eyes are still the four or five feet in front of you.
Before you begin walking, notice how you’re standing, and how your feet feel.
When you start to walk notice the feeling of your feet as one moves forward, is placed on the ground, and then how the other one starts to move, and then touches the ground.
Two Tips to Help You With Your Walking Meditation Practice
If you’re having trouble focusing on your breath, switch your focus to your feet and vice versa.
If you lose concentration altogether with either of these walking meditations, stop and stand still. Immerse yourself in that sensation. Breathe regularly and scan your body from your feet to the top of your head. Once you’re calm and centered, resume your walking meditation.
Suggestions for Where to Walk
You can do walking meditation just about anywhere as you don’t always have to walk slowly.
Bhikkhu Bodhi a Buddhist monk who leads an annual meditative walk in New York City explains, “When we walk in New York, we stay mindful of what we are doing. We just walk a little faster that’s all.”
If there is only one room available for you to walk in, then walk slowly back and forth. When you turn to go the other way, turn slowly and mindfully.
Many malls will open their doors before the stores are open so people have a place to go walking regardless of the weather outside. Check out the ones in your area.
And why not try doing walking meditation on a treadmill?
Then of course, there’s also the great outdoors, nature trails, walking and biking paths, city parks, and gardens.
Wherever you decide to walk, just remember that like any meditation practice you have to do it daily in order to reap the benefits.
That means, whether you want to make walking meditation your only meditative practice, or use it in conjunction with sitting meditation, you’ll need to schedule a time for it.
Here’s to your success with your walking meditation practice.
You may also like to check out the Quick and Easy Meditations.
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