Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is a great way to reduce stress because you get the benefits of physical exercise and clear your mind through meditation.

Do you want to feel physically invigorated and mentally relaxed?

Are you looking to squeeze some meditation into your busy life?

Most people do some walking each day, even if it is just to your car!

This represents an opportunity to try walking meditation.

Mindful walking incorporates mindfulness meditation into your daily activities.

Mindful walking is about bringing your awareness to the experience of walking.

While there are several types of walking meditation all mindful walking meditations focus the individual on expanding their awareness and experience in two ways:

  • the individual components of walking such as lifting the leg, bending the knee, stepping forward, the heel touching and then rolling onto the ball of the foot.
  • the provcess of walking such as the feelings in the feet, legs, and other body parts, and also the overall balance and movement of the body.

Unlike other meditation techniques such as transcendental meditation and other sitting meditations, moving meditation such as mindful walking requires you to have your eyes open.

Obviously there is less withdrawal from the world compared to other mindfulness meditation exercises, otherwise you may trip or walk into something.

From a personal level and with my clients I have found that mindful walking, or any other type of moving meditation (such as mindful eating) is easier for people to be aware of their bodies compared to sitting meditation.

This makes walking meditation an effective introduction to learning how to meditate and a good technique to reduce stress and promote relaxation.

Steps to walking meditation

When working with clients on walking meditation for stress relief I think the best way for them to get the principles is to talk them through it.

I use an audio CD as a guided meditation.

But you can also try doing mindful walking on your own.

Find a peaceful place, preferably outdoors.

Now walk mindfully at your own pace. Notice the sights, smells and the sounds.

Mindful walking is not about changing the way that you walk you are just going be more mindful of how you walk.

Now gently bring your awareness to your breath. Feel the breath moving in and then out of the body.

1. Physical sensations associated with mindful walking

By bringing your awareness to your breath you slowly start to become more aware of your bodily sensations.

Now bring your awareness to your feet.

Note the patterns of contact that your feet make with the ground.

How the heal touches the ground and then rolls onto the ball of the foot before the foot lifts off the ground.

Bring your awareness to the ankles, the knees and then the leg muscles as you mindfully walk.

Notice the qualities of the sensations as you slowly walk.

Bring that awareness to your hips. Notice the muscles of your pelvis as one moves hip forward and then the other.

Bring this awareness to the abdomen, back, and overall gait as you slowly and mindfully walk.

2. Feelings and emotions associated with mindful walking

As you mindfully walk you may become aware of feelings and emotions.

These emotions may be pleasant or unpleasant, they may arise from internal or external causes.

Rather than cling to these feelings simply notice these feelings in a detached manner and allow them to drift by as though on a cloud.

3. Thoughts associated with mindful walking

You may notice that thoughts arise.

A typical thought is "I am bored" or "Why am I doing this".

Again don't cling to these thoughts.

Observe the thoughts in a detached manner and bring your attention back to the physical sensations of walking.

As you become conscious of each part of your body simply relax it.

It is quite common for mindful walking to greatly increase your sensitivity to your thoughts, emotions, and behavior.

Notice these sensations and the surrounding environment and find a balance in your awareness between the inner and outer worlds.

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