You’ve probably heard of meditation, but have you heard of walking meditation? Meditation while walking may seem slightly challenging, possibly even counterintuitive, but it’s an incredibly grounding and beneficial practice. Don’t worry if you’re new to the practice of meditation. Provided you can walk, you’ll have no problem learning this new and exciting technique. We’ll take you through some of the benefits that this practice can offer you, before going on to guide you step by step through the process itself. We’ll also discuss some hints and tips that might make it a little easier for you.
What is walking meditation & its benefits?
The benefits of walking and meditating individually are already widely known and established. Walking, especially out in nature, increases your heart rate, allows you to take in cleaner air, and helps to clear your mind of any worries, stresses, or negative thoughts. Meditation works in a similar way: it allows your mind and spirit to enter a natural state whereby negative thoughts are released into the world, and your body relaxes along with your mind and spirit. Both of these are incredibly healthy practices, so why combine them?
Walking meditation isn’t simply about combining two healthy and beneficial practices. Meditation while walking offers you a new perspective that you wouldn’t be able to attain through walking or meditation alone. You can think of it as a slightly more energized and determined form of meditation, one that focuses slightly less on the relaxation elements and more on the physical, mental, and spiritual drives that we possess.
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Is walking a form of meditation?
There is a major difference between meditation and walking meditation. Through meditation, your mind becomes focused as you connect with your subconscious mind and your spirit. Carrying out this practice while walking doesn’t allow you to enter this same space, but it does allow you to enter a new one. This new and sometimes unusual headspace allows you to take a more active approach in relation to where your thoughts lead.
By driving our own thoughts within the meditative space, we can set goals for our meditation session and actively push our minds and spirit towards them. Usually, in meditation, we have to sit back and let our thoughts guide us, but with this approach, we can ponder questions, reach out to angels and spirit guides, and consider the overall nature of our spiritual journeys.
There is a slight challenge within this new frame of mind though. Many people struggle to tell the difference between the walking meditation mindset, and daydreaming. As we begin to explore the simple steps you should follow when carrying out this style of meditation, we’ll cover some pointers that will help you stay focused and aware.
Guided walking meditation
Before we explore the way to walk and meditate at the same time, it’s worth discussing the benefit of using a guided walking meditation, which is sometimes referred to as a guided grounding meditation. If you’ve ever used a guided meditation before, it’s the exact same thing. This is typically a file that you can listen to which guides you along your meditative journey.
The benefit of such a file is that you don’t need to rely on your own ability or attention to avoid staying distracted. One of the many problems we all face is noticing when our mind has wandered so that we can pull it back to a focused space. With guided walking meditation, you’re simply following the directions that are constantly being given to you. For many people, this is more reliable than following their own mind.
How do I practice walking meditation?
For those of you interested in trying the walking meditation technique on your own, here are the basics. For starters, you can do this anywhere. Ideally, you want to be out in nature, but if your only options are walking through the city or inside your home, then these are still acceptable. As with any meditation, you want to take a moment before you begin. Take some slow, deep breaths: in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Focus your mind on the intention of this walking meditation. What do you hope to learn, discover, or achieve?
When your mind and body have relaxed a little, begin to focus on the sensations that you’re feeling. Notice the exact areas on your feet that are connected to the ground (even through shoes and socks). Feel the warmth of the air and feel any breeze that may be blowing against your skin. Become aware of any smells or sounds that are surrounding you. Do any of them repeat? If so, focus on the pattern they create. Take another deep breath in and as you exhale, begin to take your first step.
The First Steps
As you take this first step, really pay attention to the movements of your body, particularly in your feet. Notice as the pressure of the ground lessens as your foot lifts into the air. Feel which part of your foot makes contact with the ground again first: is it the heel? Is it the toes? Do both touch the ground at the same time? Just focus your mind on these sensations as you begin to walk. Your first few steps should be slower than normal. Really take the time to notice every change in your body that takes place just by walking.
As focusing on your feet becomes second nature, expand your awareness and begin to feel what the rest of your body is doing. How do your hands move with each step? Do your arms swing? Can you feel your heart beating throughout your body? After each slow step, check on your breathing and make sure that your breaths are still slow and steady, but not uncomfortable.
You’ll soon begin walking at a fairly normal pace but remember to keep focused. As you expand your awareness again, notice the sounds that are around you. Become aware of any changes in temperature or the speed of the wind. When you begin to feel like your mind is focused but you’re also walking at a normal speed, begin to direct your consciousness inward towards your own thoughts. Allow this heightened mental state to work towards the goal and intention that you set yourself at the start.
You can carry this technique out for as long as you like. Some people will walk for hours with their mind in this space, others will only do it for a couple of minutes. Do what feels natural to you.