Meditation should never become a chore—something we just “have to do” because we practice daily.
Approaching any of our daily activities as a chore does not truly benefit us. It helps to keep a beginner’s mind and to approach meditation practice with new eyes or a new technique. I find it beneficial to take online courses that teach techniques unfamiliar to me.
Walking meditation can complement your seated practice (I wouldn’t recommend completely replacing seated meditation with walking meditation, however).
Beginners or people with attention difficulties may prefer walking meditation, as it can facilitate mindfulness of body sensations while moving—especially if focusing solely on the breath proves to be too difficult.
Walking meditation is highly recommended by a wide range of teachers.
Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, famous for developing the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program (MBSR) recommends walking mindfully for 10 minutes daily. The Greater Good in Action of Berkeley University adapted one of his guided walking meditations.
Meditation teachers (and authors) Sharon Salzberg and Jack Kornfield offer a variety of walking meditation guides. Thich Nhat Hanh offers a beautiful description of mindful walking, which focuses on uniting body and mind as well as our interconnection with the Earth.
There are many benefits of walking meditation:
-may improve ability to focus (due to an increase in sensory stimuli observed as you walk – as compared to sitting in a quiet room)
-may “invigorate” and “build strength and stamina”
-great for beginners learning the basics of meditation
-great for seasoned meditators looking to refresh their practice
Basics of Walking Meditation
Choose a place without heavy traffic. You can even start in your backyard or a local park. It should be a place that is safe to practice walking meditation. Aim for 10-15 minutes of walking. If this is not possible for you, aim for five minutes and build as you gain more experience.
Keep a slow pace. Your movements should be slow, steady, and even.
There are various methods to practice walking meditation. I am going to guide you through an adaptation based on various methods including Thich Nhat Hanh’s and Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s.
Let’s Walk! A Guided Walking Meditation
Choose a place outdoors that is both safe for walking meditation and free from heavy traffic.
Stand for a few moments, feel your feet planted firmly into the ground.
Set a timer for 10-15 minutes.
Take two deep breaths as you begin to feel centered and prepared to practice.
Keep your arms at your side or clasp your hands together, whichever feels more natural.
Begin walking—walk at a slow, steady pace.
Focus your attention on the soles of your feet as they touch the ground.
Observe any sounds you hear and label them, such as “dog barking” or “birds singing.” No need to focus on the sounds, simply label them as you continue to walk.
Be aware of any visual stimuli: flowers, a tree that you have not noticed before, a scurrying squirrel. Acknowledge what you see as you continue to walk. Allow your attention to be open to what you see, hear, and feel as your feet touch the ground. Each step you take grounds you in the here and now.
Thank you for practicing walking meditation today.
Editor: Dana Gornall
Jennifer Mazzoni M.S. CCC-SLP, is a full-time mom, part-time Speech Language Pathologist, and she works part-time in a rehabilitation setting. She lives with her husband, two daughters, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel in the Chicago area. Follow her blog, Help Mama Meditate, and catch her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest!
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