When you were a child, your parents taught you how to walk. Probably you would not remember how you started to move with those tiny, wobbly baby steps. Gradually, walking became an involuntary act in our lives.
However, most of us have rarely thought of using this activity as a tool to develop mindfulness. Often we have only heard about sitting meditation as a method to develop mindfulness.
Nevertheless, walking meditation has been used by meditators from time immemorial to develop their minds and achieve higher levels of spirituality.
There is a popular saying that “a journey of thousand miles begins with a single step.” Therefore, let us understand how to start walking meditation at the beginning level.
- Does walking count as meditation?
- What is the origin of walking meditation?
- How do you meditate while walking?
- How to start walking meditation?
- Is walking meditation good for kids?
Does walking count as meditation?
Conscious walking is counted as one type of meditation. Generally, we are not aware of the movement of our legs while walking. When the mind is being busy with thoughts, we walk from one place to another place.
If you walk mindfully, your will learn how to focus on walking and observe all the dynamics of walking. The experience you gain in walking meditation helps you to be tranquil even if you walk on a busy road. Further, the insight you gain through a simple walk can be transformed into a mind training process.
What is the origin of walking meditation?
Walking meditation dates back to the time of the Buddha. Also scriptures refer it as a mindfulness tool and its benefits. In most of the Buddhist temples, there is a simple walkway made out of sand for meditation practice. Tibetan Buddhist and Bon traditions also perform this practice as a part of a pilgrimage called “kora”.
Also, in the western world, paths that take the shape of a circuit have been created for spiritual walks. It is called a labyrinth. One of the famous labyrinth in the world is Chartres Cathedral, also known as The Cathedral of Our Lady of Chartres in France.
How do you meditate while walking?
Paying close attention on natural walking is the key to meditate while walking. That means, whenever you walk, you are supposed to keep your mind concentrated without letting it wander away. This requires some practice at the beginning because we have not trained our minds to be conscious of walking.
Over the time, meditative walk becomes a second nature in your life. You will be mindful of the fact you are walking and be able to reach your destination without the mind getting distracted. Consequently, you can make the meditative walk a part of daily life.
Why do you feel good after walking?
- Walking meditation makes you active. Studies have proved walking increases blood circulation and the flow of oxygen throughout the body. Therefore, you can stay energetically during the day.
- Walking meditation gives opportunity to connect yourself with nature. When lethargic feelings arise in the mind, getting some fresh air while walking is the best way to set your tone for the rest of the day.
- A 2017 study published on the American Journal of Health Promotion reveals walking meditation helps reducing anxiety among young adults.
- Walking meditation helps reducing sleepiness during day time. On the other hand, it improves better sleep at night.
- Walking helps calming the mind
- Sitting meditation followed by walking meditation helps yogis to gain better concentration
- Walking stretches your body reducing muscle tension
- A walk in the nature allows you to have a leisure moment for yourself
- Walking helps weight loss by improving digestion
- More than anything, you feel happy, relaxed, and refreshed after the meditation session
The above list is not a comprehensive list of the immense benefits of walking meditation. Thus, practice and experience them by yourself.
How do you prepare for walking meditation?
Step 01-Finding a suitable place
As a beginner, it is good to select a secluded area. This can be in your back yard, inside home, or in any other area that you can have a few minutes without any disturbance. Mentally gage a path which is about 30 feet long. When you practice, you are supposed to walk back and forth on this path for a few times.
Read Creating your own walkway for walking meditation to find more about how to create your own walk way and get some inspiration to start walking meditation.
Step 02-Duration of walking meditation
10 to 15 minutes is ideal at the initial level.
Step 03-Body posture
Stand on your feet with an upright posture. Hands should be gently clasped in front or behind the body. Keep the eye level about 6 to 8 feet ahead of you.
Step 04-Disconnect from digital world
If you are not expecting an important call or a message, it is good to put your mobile phone on silent mode and keep it aside. Imagine, you walk for 5 minutes and your phone rings or you hear the sound of a text message. As a beginner, your mind is not strong enough to avoid the temptation to check who is ringing you or texting you.
To keep a track of time, use a watch or a clock as a timer.
Step 05-Recommended speed for walking meditation
Walk at a pace comfortable to you. As a beginner, you will tend to walk fast, however, it is recommended to walk at a moderate pace for better concentration. You will find the right pace for you before long.
How to start walking meditation?
- Stand still at the starting point on your walking path
- Pay attention to your posture
- Lift your right foot first
- Move it forward slowly
- Place the right foot on the ground
- Then repeat the above steps with left foot
- Once you reach the turnaround point, be aware of the fact you are turning around and stand still for a moment
- Start over
What should I contemplate while walking?
During walking meditation, you can either make a mental note like, “stepping” or right, left.” This will avoid your mind wandering away and keep focused on walking.
How to maintain awareness while walking?
When you practice, you should maintain awareness on walking. For example, you should be aware of the moment you stand still, which foot you lifted up, and which foot you placed on the ground etc. Once you reach the turnaround point, be mindful you are turning around.
Also remember not to pay any attention on sounds or any other visible objects around you.
What should I do if the mind wanders away?
Even if you try to stay focused, the wandering mind will be busy in distracting you with endless thoughts. In each time it happens, simply be aware of the fact your mind wandered away and bring back your attention to walking.
Do not get disappointed with yourself or give up the practice. It is our goal to tame the monkey mind.
Is walking meditation good for kids?
I have experience in working with kids who were in the age group of 8 through 13. Actually, they were happy to practice walking meditation than sitting meditation because they considered it to be a little playtime.
Remember to select a hazard free area for the practice. Demonstrate them how to keep their body posture and perform walking meditation as we discussed earlier. Try to keep them engaged for 3-5 minutes.
Can walking meditation be practiced at an advanced level?
Read Walking meditation for advanced practitioners: gaining insights.
As a final point, walking meditation is a practice you can insert in your daily schedule. However, busy you are, you will not regret investing 10 minutes in this valuable practice and experience the lifetime benefits.
Feature image: Photo by Brian Mann on Unsplash, Photo by Jakob Owens on Unsplash