What if you could turn a common everyday action into one of the biggest meditation tools? Yes, we are talking about walking meditation. Its many benefits range from making you feel grounded to helping you develop a heightened sense of awareness.
Walking meditation, as a practice, involves using the natural movement of walking to cultivate mindfulness.
While you could take to walking meditation both indoors and outdoors, it is ideal to find a calm place where you aren’t likely to be disturbed. Choose a pace that allows you to be at ease and relaxed, while your senses are fully open to soak in the surroundings.
The important aspect of meditative walking is to be rooted in the present moment and being aware of the actions you take as you walk. Typically this would include being mindful of the two broad aspects of walking; "stepping and putting down”. What it in turn means, is to be aware of the steps of
As you walk, your attention also needs to be focused on your sensations, such as your breath going in and out, the surrounding sounds and more. In the early days of meditative walking, this may not seem to be an easy task, as your mind is likely to wander. Just being aware of the wandering mind is fine too. Each time that any thoughts do make an appearance, do not beat yourself up; instead, simply bring your focus back to the sensations. The more you practice it, the more walking meditation is likely to grow on you. Over a period of time, you will notice how you are able to experience the present not just during your meditative walks, but pretty much in all other aspects of life as well.
Meditative walking will present many benefits to you, including but not limited to:
The practice helps boost blood flow, especially to the legs. Importantly it is also known to boost your energy levels and take away any feelings of listlessness and lethargy.
Studies have revealed the benefits associated with this practice on blood sugar levels. In fact, a recent study spoke of the benefits to patients with type 2 diabetes as they took to meditative walking for 30 minutes a day, 3 times a week for a period of 12 weeks.
Exercise, in general, is known for its stress-reducing capabilities. However, when walking is coupled with meditation, its benefits in reducing anxiety and stress are further enhanced. The Vietnamese meditation master, Thich Nhat Hanh, spoke of the fact that as we walk, we should imagine that we “print peace, serenity and happiness on the ground.” Inculcating a mindset like that will automatically mean bidding adieu to anxiety.
As you undertake the mindful walking process, you, of course, have a host of potential distractions staring at you in the form of traffic, people, inclement weather, your own thoughts and more. As you learn not to be distracted by them and to bring yourself back to the present moment, what you are doing is that you are strengthening your overall faculties to remain focused.
Above everything, what walking meditation offers to you is heightened awareness of intention. Each step taken mindfully involves cultivating a deeper understanding of our intentions. Once transformative intention becomes a part of our day-to-day life, we are well equipped to bring fulfilment and happiness into all aspects of our lives.
Here’s to your using walking meditation to reap the many benefits to your body, but also using it to quieten your mind and to move to the realm of pure awareness!