Meditation on the Move
Where ever you can walk, you can meditate.
Posted November 4, 2011
When you read the word "meditation," what images pop up in your mind? For many of us, we think of someone sitting in the lotus position (legs crossed), eyes closed, and hands in a mudra (symbolic hand gesture). But there's another form that is equally as relaxing. It's walking meditation, and you can do it practically anytime and anywhere.
Walking meditation is a simple way to implement mindfulness practice into your active life. If you're a regular meditator, it also adds variety to your daily routine, and it's particularly useful when your body just doesn't feel like sitting still. Over time, you'll experience similar decreases in stress and increases in relaxation as you would during your sitting meditation.
Peace of Mind One Step at a Time
An essential component of all meditation methods is creating a rhythm. Whether it's breath meditation, mantra meditation or walking meditation, the mental rhythms we create give us a break from the constant agitation of the "monkey mind." "Monkey mind" refers to the constant mind chatter that agitates us throughout the day. Meditation calms the monkey mind, thereby encouraging rest, rejuvenation, and healing. Here are four steps to a walking meditation practice.
First off, you're going to be walking very slowly. Therefore, it's best to find a place where you can walk undisturbed and undistracted. If you're practicing where there are lots of people, you may become preoccupied with what others think of your slow pace. Meditation is about focus, so avoid environments that will make you self-conscious of what others are thinking of you.
2. Breath Through Each Step
Once you find a proper location, begin walking, and match each step with your breath. As you breathe in, lift your foot. As you breathe out, put your foot down. Then do the same with the other foot and continue this pattern.
3. Breath First, Step Second
Your breath should direct the pace at which you walk, not the other way around. Breathe naturally, and have your steps follow it. As you move, you'll find that your mind calms-despite the fact that you're moving. The key is to focus on your breath. As with any other type of meditation, thoughts will arise. Don't fight them or push them away. Simply draw your attention back to the rhythm of walking and breathing.
4. Open Your Eyes
You may wonder where you should look throughout your walking meditation. Simply cast your gaze towards your feet. Watch your feet as they move to the pattern of your breath.
Meditation in Public Spaces
If you're in a place where you can't slowly walk without attracting attention, here's an alternate version: take two steps with each breath. As a result, you'll walk at a faster pace. Focus your gaze a little in front of you, so you know where you're going. Breathe in, two steps; breathe out, two steps.
What I enjoy about walking meditation is that I can do it nearly anywhere: airports, shopping malls, parks and more. You can lead an active life, be surrounded by crowds of people, and still maintain a meditative practice. With each step you take, you'll decrease stress and experience calm.