Walking is a habitual, normal part of most of our day to day lives and it’s something we do without thinking about it. We tend to aimlessly wander around, our thoughts consumed by the day ahead, a conversation that you recently had, what you need to pick up for dinner, what time your train is… However each time we do this, we shift our consciousness away from the present moment and miss our chance to connect with what is happening around us, now.
Meditation whilst walking is a great way to get the body and mind in sync and will help you to feel more relaxed. Choosing to practice being present will have an enormous effect on your mental wellbeing, and walking meditations are a good place to start.
You may be used to the type of meditation that involves closing your eyes whilst sitting down. Walking meditations are slightly different; they require you to mindfully walk and take note of what is going on around you, eyes wide open. As opposed to focusing solely on your breath like you would a seated meditation, the focus is switched to the rhythm of your walk.
There are different approaches you can take depending on your location, but can be done anywhere. A slow paced walk in the countryside will be a different experience to walking around in a city, but regardless of your setting, here are some tips for meditative walking -
- Be aware of the number of strides you are taking. Spend a few minutes doing this and feel the connection between this and your breath.
- Notice what you can see, what you can hear, the sensation of your feet touching the ground. Approach this as a witness and try to avoid forming any thoughts or opinions about what is around you - just focus on being. Whether it be the feeling of the wind in your hair, the sun on your skin, voices from those passing by, cars, birds. Allow your body to respond to these intuitively and let go.
- Turn your attention to any smells that arise on your walk. The mind will immediately want to create a story or take you back to a previous memory triggered by the aroma. Let this pass.
- Stop for a few minutes. Take a deep breath and soak up the environment that you are in.
These tips will transform a simple walk into a great opportunity to connect with your body and can be practiced anywhere, any time.
Sources: Headspace, This Conscious Life.