Have you heard about walking meditation? This is the topic of the article.
Do you go for walks every day, or several times a week?
Have you considered using the time you spend on walking, for meditation?
You might walk in the city or village, in a local park or on a hiking trail. What do you do when walking? Where does your attention go?
- Do you talk on the phone with your friends or work colleagues while walking?
- Do you walk with earphones, listening to music or a podcast?
- Are you walking, while texting your friends or checking the last messages on your social media accounts?
- Maybe you are just allowing all the problems of the day, what this or that person said, occupy your attention?
Why not give some rest to your mind, give time to yourself, relieve the stress of work, and train your mind to meditate?
Your legs are walking, but your mind is far away. You need to align your body and your attention. The way to do so is through walking meditation.
Why Practice Walking Meditation and What Are the Benefits
What are the benefits of walking meditation and what do you gain by practicing it?
Walking meditation syncs your body and mind. It makes you more mindful of your body and the world around you.
It’s an opportunity to take advantage of the time you spend on walking, and spend it on meditation.
Does walking meditation replace a mediation practiced sitting in a quiet place?
No, it does not. It’s a meditation which you can add to your schedule. Since a great number of people go for a walk, why not use this time more effectively by using it to practice meditation?
If you are very busy, and cannot find the time, or a quiet place to meditate, walking meditation is a wise alternative.
This kind of practice is a useful and effective means to release stress, free the mind of useless thinking, and it can also give you more control of your mind and thinking process.
- Walking meditation helps you focus your mind and avoid getting distracted by meaningless and useless thoughts.
- If you don’t have the time to meditate, you can use the time you are walking to meditate.
- It’s a meditation you can practice anywhere, while taking a walk, on the way to work, or whenever you walk outside, and even at home.
Conscious Walking versus Auto-Pilot Walking
Where is your attention the moment you start walking? Do you dwell on worries and problems, do you make plans, or do you daydream?
Most of us are busy with something else while walking. The body walks on auto-pilot, while our mind is somewhere else. We are busy listening to music or a podcast, speaking on the phone, or occupied with our thoughts.
You walk, but you are inattentive to your body and your surroundings, and you are not living in the present moment.
It is at this time that you can use the situation to your advantage and train your mind to relax and be obedient to you.
You can pay attention to your consciousness-awareness, live in the present moment, and stop walking automatically, on auto-pilot.
Be in the Present Moment
Instead of letting the mind wander away, be unfocused, dwell on problems, or daydream, why not bring it back to the present moment?
It’s pleasant to listen to music, and you gain knowledge while listening to podcasts, but sometimes, just leave them and enjoy the present moment.
While walking, you are out of your home, out of your place or work.
Enjoy those moments that our away from the daily distractions, interruptions, and interferences. Give yourself the gift of living in the present moment, and just walk, without occupying your mind with thoughts, music or podcasts.
You can lust appreciate the simple pleasure of walking.
Walking while your mind is calm, aware of your surroundings, of nature, is a sort of meditation. It’s walking meditation.
It’s a great way to relax the body and the mind.
Distractions and Walking Meditation
This sort of meditation requires that you keep your eyes open, stay alert of your surroundings and ignore distractions.
Unlike sitting meditation techniques, since you are out, you need to be conscious of your surroundings, so you don’t bump into people, poles or trees, and do not risk yourself when crossing a street.
You walk around with a silent mind, mindful of your surroundings, the buildings, tress and people, being fully conscious and alert.
While practicing walking meditation, breathe normally. Do not follow the thoughts that enter your mind, nor get involved with them. You just watch them dispassionately.
While practicing walking meditation, you are usually not alone, in the privacy of your room. There are people, cars and noises that distract the attention, which means that you need to keep your focus fixed.
Where to Practice Walking Meditation?
You can practice this sort of meditation anywhere you want.
Some places would confront you with more distractions and disturbances, and you will have to be more focused and alert.
In the City
In the city there is more hustle, noises and distractions, and therefore, the mind is likely to be more stimulated in a city, and there is more need to anchor the mind.
You might find the park, or the beach a little quieter.
Outside in Nature
It’s refreshing taking a walk outside, in nature, connecting with the open spaces, the fresh air, the sights, sounds, and scents.
The stillness of nature, and magnificent landscape tend to calm down and relax the mind.
Walking inside Your Home
Sometimes, it’s not possible to go for a stroll outside. In this case, you can walk inside your home, even if this is for a short distance. Just walk back and forth at a moderate pace, while meditating.
While doing so, switch off your TV or radio.
Walking Meditation Guidelines
You can walk fast or you can stroll, it does not matter.
You can walk in the park, along the beach, in nature, or in the city. It does not matter where you walk.
A meditative walk is especially suited for busy people. It can be done anywhere, at any time of the day.
Here are a few guidelines to be mindful of:
Pay attention to your Body
As you start walking, pay attention to your body. How it feels? Are there any tensed muscles? Is there any pain? Do you feel heavy or light?
For a few seconds, strive to become aware of your body and relax while walking.
Pay attention to your posture and how you are carrying your body, straight back or slouching, light gait or dragging your feet.
Strive to focus your attention on the meditation, instead of letting it roam where it wills.
3 Forms of Walking Meditation
I would like to suggest two forms of walking meditation:
- Focusing on your body and the environment around you.
- Directing Your Attention to Your Steps.
- Focusing on your awareness.
I suggest that you try both kinds of meditations, starting with the first one, where you focus on your body and environment.
The second meditation, of focusing on your awareness, requires more focus and alertness.
Next, we will be explaining how to practice these meditations.
Meditation 1 – Focusing on the Body and the Surroundings
Be Aware of What’s Going on
Pay attention to what’s going on around you. Look at the passing cars, people, window displays, trees, and whatever is happening around you.
Just look around, be conscious of the world around you, acknowledge what you see, but do not think about these things.
Pay Attention to Sounds and Smells
Notice the sounds you hear, and the smells and scents you smell, but do not get immersed in them.
Just notice the sounds, noises and smells dispassionately, resisting the tendency of the mind to think about them. Do not follow any associated thoughts or feelings that might arise due to the noises and smells.
Be Aware of Physical Sensations
Notice any physical sensations, such as pains, scratches, tensed muscles. Just observe them calmly, without becoming involved with them. Simply notice them and move on.
Once in a while, direct your focus to the movements of your body. Notice how you move your legs, the position of your hands, and how fast or slow you are moving.
Also, notice whether you are slouching or keeping your back straight.
Keep walking, while practicing the above guidelines.
Meditation 2 – Directing Your Attention to Your Steps
While walking, just focus on your steps. Focus on how you are moving your legs and walking. That’s all. Ignore everything else.
Immerse your whole attention in the act of walking.
Do not think of anything else, only watch yourself walking. Do not pay attention to your surroundings, people, noises and objects, except being careful not to bump into them. Be careful and attentive when crossing a street.
Meditation 3 – Focusing on Your Awareness
This kind of meditation requires more focus and attention, and might not be suitable for everyone.
Here, in this walking meditation, you direct your attention to the feeling of being alive, conscious and existing.
Do not follow or get involved with any thought that pops up into your mind. Ignore everything, striving to be thought-less, but fully conscious.
When you catch yourself thinking, just bring your attention back, and strive to show lack of interest in your thoughts.
Walk with a calm mind, focusing on the feelings that YOU ARE HERE AND NOW.
It’s like emptying your mind of everything, and focusing on the calmness that ensues.
If you have been practicing meditation and concentration exercises for a while now, this would be easier to practice.
Take advantage of the time you go for a walk, or when you need to go somewhere on feet, and practice meditation. It’s time well-spent.
Do you wish to find advice and guidelines on how to calm your mind and how to practice mediation? You can find them in my books:
Calm Down the Nonstop Chatter of Your Mind
Emotional Detachment for Happier life.