What is a walking meditation? It’s a combination of walking and meditation that increases a sense of calm and peace within you. Find out how a walking meditation can benefit you and be easily incorporated into your daily life…
Walk as if you are kissing the ground with your feet – Thích Nhất Hạnh
You know that to lead a happy life, with a healthy body full of energy, you need to eat the right things, limit the wrong things, take enough exercise, get plenty of fresh air and drink lots of water. But what about your mind? A healthy body is nothing without a healthy mind to go with it.
Mindfulness and Meditation
And that’s where mindfulness and meditation come in. Both evoke feelings of stillness and quiet, and are about being in the present moment, but are subtly different. Mindfulness is a state of focus. It’s time out to focus your mind on one, precious thing. It can be done anywhere and you don’t have to be in a comfortable seated position or lying down. You can have a mindful shower, drink your morning tea mindfully, or turn your focus to a beautiful flower in a field for a moment. Thoughts can be allowed to pass through, ‘filed’ or labelled for action later.
Meditation involves surrendering all thoughts and encourages you to silence your mind and be calm. True meditation involves being awake but with your mind centred inwards – aware but with no focus on the things going on around you.
Both take time to fully master, and shouldn’t be rushed. But with busy lives, it can be a struggle to find time to be mindful or to meditate.
Meditation in Action
Walking meditation is ‘meditation in action’. See it as somewhere between mindfulness and meditation. It can easily be incorporated into your day on your way to work, going to the shops, picking up the children or simply on a walk dedicated to being mindful. Shake off any feelings that meditation needs to be done whilst seated. Meditation is a way of being aware of yourself, and where you are in a moment. It has an inner focus.
Given that your mind will be focussed on the act of walking, its imperative that you practice your walking meditation safely. Both urban and rural locations have their own risks. But if you struggle with seated meditation, then you might find walking meditation comes easier to you. Focusing on the here and now, via the fluid movements of walking, can be easier than when your body is still.
It’s best to first practice in an open space, free from cars, other walkers and obstacles. Even though your eyes are open throughout a walking meditation, it can be easy to lose sense of your surroundings. Once you’ve practised a few times, you can take your walking meditation skills with you wherever you go.
The walking meditation audio track, at the end of this article, will help to guide and focus you, and is designed to work alongside these tips for a safe walking meditation.
Safe Walking Meditation
Start by standing. It might seem like an obvious place to start, but take some time to focus on being upright, with your feet connected with the ground. Feel how your legs support your body and your spine holds you upright. Notice where your arms naturally hang. Close your eyes and take a few deep, mindful breaths, then start walking when you’re ready, taking a slow pace to begin with.
Stay in the present moment, with your focus on the act of walking and how you connect with the ground. If your mind wanders, take a few deep breaths, label the thoughts for later and bring your attention back to your feet on the ground. Remember to be fully aware of your surroundings. Notice the sights, smells and sounds, but keep your focus on you.
As you move, take note of all the muscles, joints and bones that go into letting you walk. Let this become the focus of your attention, rather than your breath as it would be during a seated meditation. How do your feet feel as they make contact with the ground? Notice your ankles, as they move upwards and downwards with each step. Move your attention up, paying attention to your calves, shins, knees and thighs. Do you have any aches or pains? Any warmth? Coolness? How do your hips feel as they help to control each step, and keep you upright? Keep a relaxed pace and feel the rhythm of your natural movements.
Working your way up your body, how does your back feel? Sense the tiny movements of your spine as each foot hits the ground. How is your stomach, and your breathing? What is your posture like? Are your shoulders and neck loose, or tense? If you’re holding a bag, are you gripping it tightly? How is your head? Are you looking straight ahead? Does your head feel heavy?
The Mind Wanders
It’s natural for your mind to wander. Wherever you’re walking, there are things that you’ll notice that will register in your mind. If you’re in a town or city, the general hum can be distracting. It can be so easy to be on auto pilot on a route that you do daily, because walking is such a routine, mechanical thing for most of us. Deep and mindful breaths will help anchor you.
Keep breathing, and focus on the act of walking, and on how your body allows you to walk.
Walking meditation is a way to bring calm and inner peace to an otherwise busy day. Stay safe by being aware of your surroundings, cars and other people, especially if you’re in a busy city, and stay in the present. But keep your attention on your feet and the work they’re doing. Be aware of how they’re kissing the ground, whatever that ground is.
Increase your pace slowly if you need to be somewhere in a hurry. Notice how each part of your body reacts to walking faster. Do you warm up, does your heart beat faster, do you breathe more heavily?
Then, when you’re nearing your destination, start to come to a natural stop. Notice how each part of your body feels once it’s still again. Take a few mindful breaths, and take this feeling with you throughout the rest of the day.
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If you like the idea of a guided walking meditation and can listen on your phone, pop in your earphones and listen in to this audio meditation on my YouTube channel. To be updated with further video and audio content, please go ahead and press that subscribe button! And if you could give this guided walking meditation a like and share, that would be fantastic peeps! Click on the video/audio link below:
And there’s more…
Here are some resources to help you get your meditation happy on!
When you’re caught in the waves of a busy mind, pushed and pulled from place to place, day and night–wouldn’t it be wonderful to finally relax? You can. The meditation strategies and practices inside this book will help you find calm, get better sleep, and beat stress. Want to buy this book? Click the link below: Meditation for Relaxation: 60 Meditative Practices to Reduce Stress, Cultivate Calm, and Improve Sleep – Adam O’Neill:
There’s an easier path to living a more peaceful and present life. This mindfulness journal provides effective ways to make practicing mindfulness part of your everyday routine so you can reduce negativity and grow your sense of calm over the year: Buy this book! Click on the link below: A Year of Mindfulness: A 52-Week Guided Journal to Cultivate Peace and Presence – Jennifer Raye:
To power up your mind-body sense of wellbeing, take a look at my blog on Meditation - please click on the link: Meditation (ruthybaker.com)
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