We all know that going for a walk in nature is good for you, the fresh air, moving the body, etc. But did you realize you can also do meditation while you are walking? Within this article you can read all about it, it doesn’t need a lot of things, just your feet, a nice place, and some basic mindfulness.
What Is A Walking Meditation?
As the word itself is saying already, it’s meditation while you are going for a walk. It’s just not simply walking around, sitting on a bench and meditate. There are some instructions involved in case you’d like to do it the proper way.
Within a walking meditation, you’ll be walking around, but you’ll have to make sure that you aren’t going to be bothered by anyone. Which makes it quite hard to go for a stroll in your community park. It also asks for some discipline as it’s not the daily walk you are having that is good for your health, it’s more of a walk that’s good for the mind.
But then, why walking meditations? Well, it’s actually a good way to encounter your own thoughts and to observe how and what you are thinking while you are in the real world. It’s actually somewhere in the middle, you’re not practicing your mindfulness in a full crowd, but you’re also not sitting on your ass with your eyes closed. It’s a great way to check if those meditation classes have paid off before you take your meditation skills into the world.
What is a walking meditation not?
As I mentioned before, this type of meditation is not just going for a walk in the park, get some fresh air and to improve your health. A walking meditation is more a walk for the mind, rather than keeping your blood pumping through your body.
It’s not a social activity. You can do it in a group, but you have to be aware that you probably won’t do a lot of talking if you’d be doing some talking at all. Making it a very introspective style of activity. There are a lot of retreats promoting this type of meditation now as it’s a great way to mix up your meditation practice.
Then what is a walking meditation?
Going for a walk is easy, but doing a walking meditation is something completely different. You’ll need the same things that you’ll need when going for a hike, it’s just very slow. To begin with, you start off walking at a very slow pace. Meaning that you won’t cover a lot of ground, so please don’t set a 5-mile goal as this is highly unlikely to do.
#1 Walk Slowly
While you are walking very slowly, try to make sure that you feel every step that you are talking about. This type of meditation is very close to mindfulness, where you are conscious about everything you do. While you are getting aware of the steps that you are taking, feel everything underneath you. Feel the surface of the ground with every step and try to be aware of how you walk.
This way you can also discover some things about the way you actually walk, to be honest. We aren’t always aware that we might not be walking in a very good way. This is because mostly we’ll be walking so fast, with all kinds of thoughts in our mind that we don’t have space to actually feel if we are walking alright.
#2 Focus On The Breath
When you are aware of the way you are walking, it might also be good to be aware of the way you are breathing. Try to breathe the way you’d do when you are meditation. Slowly and gently, just to make sure that your heart rate doesn’t go up too fast. This step might be a bit hard as you’ll normally breathe faster the moment you are doing something.
Don’t give up though, it’s actually a great exercise to practice very soft breathing. This might be very helpful in your daily life as stress does raise the heart rate and breathing. By doing this meditation you’ll learn how to control it and thus reducing your stress as well, even in times of high stress.
#3 Focus On Your Thoughts
As I mentioned before, it’s also a great way to look at how you are thinking. When you are walking very slowly, even in a group, there might be some thoughts coming up. While you are slowing down everything, it might be a good time to look at those thoughts. It’s not easy walking that slow and to some, it might even be very frustrating. So try to see where that frustration comes from.
And if it doesn’t come, the reason why you are getting frustrated, try to just observe and don’t react to your thoughts. These are techniques you’ve learned in your mindful and meditation classes, so now it’s time to see how those techniques work, out there.
Best Time and Place To Do A Walking Meditation?
Well, basically anytime and anywhere would do, you just have to take some things into consideration.
First of all, you don’t want to run in anyone you’d know. Meaning that the location itself is already very important before you start. If you are living next to some great nature, then this might be a good way to start. If not, it might be worth to drive an hour for the next best place you can find. This way you make not only sure that you won’t bump into someone, but it might also be nice to discover some new places.
The best location? Well, any location would be perfect if it’s not too noisy and has not too many people walking around. Even the slightest “hello” from someone might set you off and then the whole meditation would’ve been for nothing.
I know, we live in a fast-growing world where it’s almost impossible not to bump into anyone anymore. But it is possible though. And if you can’t think of a place where you can go, try to see if it’s possible to go on a holiday where you’ll be able to practice this type of meditation. There are also a lot of retreats that include a walking meditation into their package.
The best time. Well, I’d say in the morning here if you are all by yourself. Fewer people to walk into and more chance of being found when you are lost. I’m just kidding with the last one of course, but I wouldn’t suggest going out by yourself at night for a walking meditation.
It is possible to do it at night, but then I’d rather suggest going with a group. Even if you are really conscious of the way you are walking, it’s still possible to twist your ankle. Especially if the visibility isn’t that great at night. And on top of that, I’d always suggest a full moon day. The night is then at it’s darkest, making it easier for you to see just a little bit of where you are going.
That’s about it for a small guide of your own walking meditation. This has the basics into it, making sure that you can go on your way. Make sure that you inform someone when you are doing a walk or hike, just to make sure that someone will come looking for you if you aren’t back after a couple of hours. Even though, it might be that you are walking so slow that you didn’t even leave the parking lot ;).
Just as I’m always curious, what is your favorite spot to go for a walk?
And for now…