Peace in Motion

walking meditationDo you want to meditate, but think that you aren’t or wouldn’t be “good at it”…? Walking meditation might be your solution!

First of all, just so you know, there is no such thing as not being good at meditation. All of us struggle with wandering minds – that’s our brain’s job (and we can celebrate that it’s doing it’s job so well!). Or maybe you think you aren’t “good” at meditation because you have difficulty sitting still (and then we can celebrate that your body is active and able to move…what a gift!).

However, if sitting meditation isn’t for you right now, but you’d like to reach a higher state of consciousness, get to know yourself better, or create some more peace in your psyche, (among so many other benefits!) then you might want to try a walking meditation. It’s simple to do and feels really good in both your mind and body, plus it has many of the same benefits as traditional sitting meditations.

There are many types of walking meditation, however I like to keep mine simple. Here’s how…

1) Choose your route. These walks are usually best outdoors. I prefer places that have some nature and are not too over-populated (ie: a quiet park, the beach, the woods, the forest, or near a river or lake). I’d recommend a minimum of 20 minutes, but sometime is better than no time, so if you have less than 20 minutes – don’t let it deter you from trying it out.

2) Dress comfortably. Make sure your clothes and shoes are appropriate for the weather and will not detract in any way from your experience. Remove loose change from your pockets and all objects that obstruct free movement (ie: a bulky wallet, a shoulder bag, a big key ring, etc.).

3) Leave your technology at home. It’s too distracting (and tempting for some) to have your phone, even if it’s on silent mode. I’d suggest leaving it at home, so you get the full benefit of being with the most important person in your life – YOU!

4) Center yourself. Just before you begin the walk, start by standing still. Close your eyes or find a soft gaze. Take eight, slow deep breaths and start to notice what it feels like in your body as you fill up with breath. You may even do a silent body scan, working your way up from feet to head, noticing all the nuanced sensations in your body.

5) Use a soft gaze. As you begin your walk, soften your gaze as much as possible. This triggers the relaxation response in your central nervous system, letting your brain know that you are safe, thus allowing you to be more attuned to your internal experience. Refrain from turning your head or shifting your visual focus abruptly for the same reason.

6) Pace yourself. Walk at a normal pace for your body. Not too fast and not too slow, and somewhat even throughout the walk so you can begin to connect into your own unique internal rhythm.

7) Find internal focus. Of course, it’s normal to take in external stimuli as you are walking, but each time you notice that you are focusing outside of your internal mind-body experience, gently bring your awareness back to the physical experience of walking. Become highly attuned — noticing what it feels like to shift from right to left, what sounds your feet make as they touch the ground, which parts of your foot make contact first then second then third, what other parts of your body move with each step, where you are holding tension, where you feel loose and open, what your breath is doing throughout, etc.

8) Re-center yourself. When you get to the end of your walk, pause. Spend one minute re-centering yourself as you did when you began (see #4). Close your eyes or remain with a soft gaze. Once again, take a 8 deep breaths and notice what your body feels like.

9) Completion. Once complete, take a moment to reflect on how you feel now as to how you felt before the walk. Without judgment, see if you notice one or two shifts in your mind or body.

10) Repetition. Keep in mind, any mind-body experience can take time to show benefits and often the positive outcomes reveal themselves long after the experience is over. So, the more you practice, the deeper and more powerful your experience gets over time. That said, one time can be great too…so don’t let the idea of making it a habit deter you!

If you decide to give it a try…let me know how it goes!