What is walking meditation?
You probably spend a lot of the day sitting in an office, and frankly, the prospect of doing more sitting is not so appealing, even if it’s for mindfulness meditation. Luckily, there is a long tradition of walking meditation and developing a mindfulness walking practice can be a great way to take a break and boost your mood.
Walking meditation may sound contradictory, but it’s a great way to bring awareness to an everyday activity and to detach from the busyness of modern life and be fully present. The ideal would be to walk somewhere beautiful, somewhere in nature. You can practice mindfulness anytime, anywhere! For instance, walking between floors in your office building, during your daily commute or a lunchtime walk through the park. And you can do it right now.
It’s easy to start a walking meditation practice, here’s how:
- If possible, try to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.
- Make the conscious decision to walk mindfully.
- Take every opportunity to walk mindfully.
- Leave your phone at home.
Before you walk, take a moment to check in with your body and see how you’re feeling. Notice your posture, feel the weight of your body and how your spine, legs, and feet are working to keep you balanced and upright. Breathe a few times deeply and bring your awareness to the present moment.
Focus your eyes softly ahead of you and walk naturally and easily. Pay attention to the mechanics of walking, the sound of your breath, the freedom of just being. Also, you may find it helpful to coordinate your steps with your breathing. In, two, three, four and out, two, three, four.
You may find your attention wandering. Observe this and gently keep bringing it back to the breath or to the physical sensation of walking (your feet touching the earth, your knees bending, your arms gently swinging.)
Move your attention to your senses.
- Notice the sounds you can hear without stopping to name them or determine if you find them pleasant or unpleasant. Notice them and let them go.
- Next, shift your awareness to what you can smell. Keep your awareness moving, not labeling or judging.
- Then, focus on what you can see. Colors, objects, textures, shapes.
- Finally, return your attention to the feeling of walking through the environment. The physical sensations of walking, the air cool or warm on your skin, ruffling your hair, how your feet are touching the ground and how this activity moves through your body.
Don’t worry if you get distracted, just keep returning to the rhythm of breathing in and out, the rhythm of walking. This way, walking meditation will be something easy to integrate into your life and will pay off in reduced stress, greater resilience, and greater inner peace.