Have you ever wondered what a unique and interesting process it is to walk? We take hundreds of steps every day without even realizing it. But what if you concentrate on how you feel as you walk through each phase of each step? What if you practiced completely mindful walking?
A walking meditation is not just a walk in the park. It is much slower and more systematic, and it requires either breathing coordination or particular types of concentration.
Walking meditation is an easy practice that requires no special training or skills. Mindful walking is available to almost all, regardless of age or fitness level. But despite all its simplicity, it’s a very effective technique that allows you to release tension and stress.
Who Is Mindful Walking For? And What Does a Walking Meditation Do?
The best part about a walking meditation is that it’s suitable for everyone. That’s why it’s most helpful for beginners who have difficulty concentrating during a formal seated meditation.
Mindful walking will prepare you for a seated meditation session by relaxing your body and organizing your thoughts.
This practice is also good for those who, for various reasons, cannot practice seated meditation (for example, because of spinal issues, etc.). So, mindful walking is an excellent complement to a formal seated meditation practice.
Buddhist monks recognized the health benefits of mindful walking as far back as 250 BCE. And that’s because this practice can have a truly positive effect on your life. Walking meditation can:
- Increase vitality
- Normalize the work of your digestive tract
- Increase concentration
- . . . and so much more!
Here’s Your Step-by-Step Guide for How to Practice a Mindful Walking Meditation:
This technique is simple, but there are certain requirements for time, place, speed, and object of attention.
1. Find a Quiet Place to Walk
Unlike a traditional seated meditation, a walking meditation is practiced with your eyes open.
So, to do the exercise, you need to find a quiet, private place with a comfortable temperature that is spacious enough for 10 to 20 steps in a straight line or circle.
If you can walk barefoot, then the effect of the exercise is doubled.
2. Focus on Your Breath
Concentrate on how you feel and the quality of your breathing. Take smooth, deep inhales followed by smooth, deep exhales.
3. Bring Your Awareness to Tactile Sensations
Focus your attention on tactile sensations. Concentrate when lifting your foot. Feel the movement of your back leg as you begin to move forward. Feel your foot stepping on the ground. Watch your body weight move from one leg to the other.
4. Pay Attention to Feelings
Don’t turn around too often – this weakens attention, and your task is exactly the opposite.
It’s important to concentrate not on the stages of the movement themselves (they’re only a kind of reference point) but only on the feelings that arise.
5. Move Slowly
To deepen your meditative state, it’s better to move slowly and not make your steps too wide.
6. Look Down
It’s best to direct your gaze to the floor in front of you, not focusing on anything in particular.
7. Constantly Return to Mindful Awareness
So, you started walking. Suddenly you find this activity boring and useless. Did you want to go faster or slower, or even go along a different trajectory?
Or maybe you caught yourself constantly looking around at various objects, forgetting about the awareness of movements. Do these situations sound familiar?
There’s no need to worry. The mind, like other meditative techniques, resists unfamiliar work. Don’t be discouraged in any way! Instead, return to your feelings and be glad that you were able to notice this state.
Take Your Mindful Walking Meditation Into Your Everyday Life
We walk a lot throughout the day, from the bus stop to our house and from the parking lot to our workplace. Why not make the most of this opportunity?
After all, you can meditate anytime, anywhere. Even your usual walk with a shopping cart through a spacious supermarket can turn into a productive walking meditation.
Outwardly, you don’t need to change anything in your movements or your usual walking speed – just focus your attention on your feet.
Externally, a person meditating is not so different from anyone else. However, during informal practice, consider speed safety and the issue of personal psychological comfort. Practice mindful walking only where it seems appropriate and possible to you.