Mindful Walking: Meditate While You Walk
One of the interesting things about practicing mindfulness is that it is not just about sitting on a cushion or a chair. Mindful walking meditation is a perfect complement to our seated meditation practice – it is “meditation in motion.” Walking meditation can be a formal practice, or it can be informal. Whether we are walking to and from appointments, errands, meetings, walking for enjoyment or exercise, it is an opportunity to guide ourselves out of the distracted autopilot we live in throughout so much of our day.
How to do it
Find a quiet space to walk. It could be outdoors, in a hallway, or even a large room. Take a minute to breathe deeply as you bring your full attention to your body. As you begin, walk at a natural pace. Place your hands wherever you feel most comfortable:
- Feel the contact of your foot as it touches the ground, and the movement of your body as you move into your next step.
- Be fully present in your body, notice how you manage to balance and make ongoing adjustments all of the time throughout your body.
- It can be helpful, particularly if you are walking in a small space, to silently count your steps to ten, pause, and with intention, choose a moment to turn around and repeat.
Whatever else draws your attention, keep coming back to the sensations of walking. Your mind will wander into thoughts; maybe about the future, the past, critical thoughts or the like, so without judgment, guide the attention back again as many times as you need.
When you feel comfortable extend your awareness to the environment around you
Expand your attention to sounds. Whether you’re indoors or outdoors, pay attention to sounds without labelling or naming, or getting caught up in whether you find them pleasant or unpleasant. Notice sounds as nothing more or less than sound.
Shift your attention to your sense of sight. Look around and try to notice every detail. Patiently coming back each time something grabs your attention. Staying natural, not overly rigid, not daydreaming and drifting, but with sustained awareness.
Move your awareness to your sense of smell. Notice any aromas or scents. Don’t push or force yourself to feel anything, just bring attention to the sense of smell, whatever you discover.
Keep this open awareness of everything around you, wherever you are. Nothing to do, nothing to fix, nothing to change. Fully aware, and walking.
In the last moments, come back to awareness of the physical sensations of walking. When you are ready to end your walking meditation, stand still for a moment again. Pausing, choose a moment to end the practice.
Consider how you might bring mindful walking to your everyday activities, whenever you need to walk from point A to point B during your day.
*Please note that Health Services Staffs Credit Union is not an expert on mindfulness techniques and that all above advice is from Denise Coleman, qualified mindfulness teacher and HSSCU scholarship recipient. Any views above are not made on behalf of HSSCU.
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