When you think of meditation, you might picture a person sitting down in a lotus posture, their hands in a certain position and their eyes closed. This is the common image of meditation. There are other meditation techniques and not all of them require you to be sitting still. Walking may not be the first image that comes to mind when you think about meditation. However, the simple act of putting one foot in front of the other can be a meditative practice that enables you to be in the moment and connect with yourself.
Walking meditation has health benefits even beyond the benefits of sitting meditation. The slow, methodical movements relieve stress, calm the body, and focus the mind—all of which are essential for optimal health and well-being. Many practitioners find mindful walking to be more relaxing than sitting, especially during times of high stress.
In walking meditation, we use the experience of walking as our focus. We become mindful of our experience while walking, and try to keep our awareness involved with the experience of walking. The goal is to use walking meditation to gently shift the focus of our attention from worrying about the past or the future, and to focus on what is actually happening in the present moment. Walking meditation is a great way to develop mindfulness. Mindfulness is when we pay attention to what is happening in the present moment.
Some people new to meditation find walking meditation is easier to practice than sitting meditation. When your body is in motion, it is generally easier to be aware of it compared to when you are sitting still. Mindful walking relaxes the body by channeling anxiety and nervous energy into physical activity and calms the mind by promoting focused awareness.
When we’re sitting still in meditation the sensations that arise in the body are much more subtle and harder to pay attention to than those that arise while we’re walking. The great thing about walking meditation is that it can be done anytime when we are walking. It is an easy practice that can be done to improve our physical and mental well-being. Here are some tips for walking meditation.
Tip 1: Find a quiet place to walk where you won’t be disturbed. For example, an early morning walk at the beach or park.
Tip 2: As you walk, notice your surroundings. Mindful walking is about being in the present—paying attention to the thoughts, feelings, and sensations we are experiencing right now
Tip 3: Be aware of your breath. Use this focus on the breath as an anchor to stabilize your attention. Pay attention to the sensations of your feet touching the ground. Notice how your body feels as you move. Your goal is to be present in your body as you notice your experience of walking slowly in this moment.
Tip 4: If any thoughts come to your mind, notice it, and let it go. Try to stay focus at the present moment. Don’t let your thoughts take control of you.