Some things in life just fit well together. Peanut butter and jelly. Workouts and protein shakes. Walking and meditation. YES, walking meditation. I believe walking meditation is a highly underrated combination. So I’m happy to tell you why they should go together. Stroll along...
First off, I want to acknowledge that there are different techniques of walking meditation, similar to the diversity of seated meditation. Some meditation styles are more focused on the movement of the feet such as traditional Buddhist meditation. Mindfulness walking meditation, on the other hand, invites you to notice your natural mind and senses.
For most of us, walking is easy and accessible. We’ve been doing it since we were babies, and it’s a part of our daily lives. But because it’s something so ingrained in us, it is easy to take for granted.
When was the last time you noticed how it felt in your body to walk? Chances are, you didn’t even think about it while you walked into the building.
Walking has tons of physical benefits. Walking is the go-to way to stay active in such a sedentary world. As an activity, walking has become more popular recently with the use of step trackers like FitBit, which encourages people to walk at least 10,000 steps a day. Here are some highlights on the benefits of walking from a 2013 study. Meditation is also beneficial (as you probably know). The most common benefit you probably hear about is stress reduction. The best news is, meditation doesn't need to take a lot of time. Here is a Forbes article about a 2014 study.
So it only makes perfect sense to blend two really beneficial practices into one. But how does it actually work and what are the combined benefits?
how to start a walking meditation practice
- Find a reliably calm path stretching 10-15 feet to walk back and forth on.
- Set a timer for 15 minutes.
- Get into a mindful state. Pause and notice what you're thinking or feeling in the body. Let it be.
- Slowly walk your path while trying to maintain your sense of mindfulness.
- Allow yourself to take in not only the mental qualities of meditation, but the qualities of your movement and your environment. Allow yourself to move or stop as needed.
- If you find yourself distracted, do what you would do in seated meditation. You may choose to focus on your breath, repeat a mantra, or simply notice your distractions. You may pause after walking to one side to ground yourself before walking to the other side.
- When the timer goes off, pause to ground yourself before going back to regular walking.
why i stand for a walking meditation practice
From my experience, I think walking meditation can give you the benefits of both walking and seated meditation. The added bonus is better posture and some confidence.
The practice has helped me apply mindfulness to my daily life.
In the way doing mountain pose can teach you how to stand mindfully, doing walking meditation has helped me move through my days more mindfully.
As a result, I've noticed shifts in how I carry myself. I'm used to rounding my neck forward and walking with erratic movements.
But I've begin to notice my posture and how I feel when I'm slouching versus how I feel when my shoulders are back and my heart open. Finding a more graceful walking posture has helped me feel confident when I walk into a room.
try it yourself: SLOUCH AND WALK ACROSS THE ROOM. NOTICE HOW YOU FEEL. THEN, mindfully shift into a BETTER POSTURE AND TRY WALKING AGAIN. SEE IF THERE'S A DIFFERENCE.
One more thing, I've set up an Instagram #walkingmeditationchallenge to encourage you to try this practice with me. Do use the hashtag! I'll be going into much more detail with my own Instagram posts for each prompt, which I'll be posting early every day June 1-15. Tag me at @hienhongyoga.
If you don't have Instagram, you can post your journey on this Facebook event page.