The Joys of Walking Meditation

Friday, August 19, 2016
Finding Beauty in my Surroundings on a Walking Meditation

Meditation has been a skill that has been hard for me to acquire. Like many people I know, it has been hard for me to let go of my thoughts and pressing concerns. Sitting still seems to actually exacerbate my efforts to clear my mind and find the stillness I seek. So when I heard about Walking Meditation it immediately appealed to me.

When I went to research more about Walking Meditation I found there are many resources regarding this ancient practise. The most important element of Walking Meditation is to think of it as a contemplative practise where close attention is paid to the actual action of walking. The idea is to be present while you walk, paying specific attention to your feet touching the pavement, the length of your stride, the rhythm of your breathing as well as taking in your surroundings. Walking Meditation is not thinking about problems, worrying about what you have to do next or working through something. It is about being in your skin in the moment. I don’t know about you, but this is much harder than is sounds.
Seeing Perspective in the Views I see on my Walking Meditations

One resource listed the abundant benefits of Walking Meditation for not only our mind and spirit but also for our physical health:

Benefits of Mindfulness Meditation
    •    Reduce Stress & Anxiety
    •    Reduce Risk of Heart Disease
    •    Lower Risk of Disease
    •    Greater Self Acceptance
    •    Improved Feelings of Happiness
    •    Lower Blood Pressure
    •    Improve Health & Vitality
    •    Cultivate Innate Wisdom
    •    Higher Creativity
    •    Reduced Risk of Heart Attack
    •    Boost Immune System
    •    Age More Gracefully
    •    Greater Compassion
    •    Improve problem solving skills
    •    Better Concentration

Many methods are recommended to help you stay present and sustain the rhythmic benefit of Walking Meditation. Here are some I have found helpful:

Repetition of movement. It is amazing how just by putting one foot in front of the other, over and over again you can create a rhythm that is compelling and sustainable. It is tricky, though, to stay in the moment and maintain awareness of the movement. Sometimes I drift and have to get back to paying attention to each step to keep myself present.

Feeling all number of sensations. I tend to walk first thing in the morning when the world is still waking up. I truly enjoy listening to the sounds of the different birds, hearing the rustle of the wind through the leaves of the trees, experiencing the smell of the flowers that are in bloom, feeling the sun on my back, seeing the softness of the light and the shadows that play with my eyes and sometimes I can even taste what is in the air. It is joy for me to work out how I am experiencing all my senses as I walk.

Being open to every sound. Concentrating on just sound helps me avoid wandering off in my thoughts. I am astounded at how many different sounds I can hear each morning from the songs of the different birds, to the chatter of the squirrels, the rustling of leaves, the rush of the wind, the buzz of various insects, to the bark of dogs, the hum of the traffic, as well as so many other noises I continue to discover. Each day is different.

Seeing my Surroundings on My Walking Meditation

Seeing your surroundings. Just looking around allows you to relish the beauty of the day and be ever mindful in the moment. I am fortunate to live near the mountains. Part of my walk allows me the joy of seeing their majestic. Some days I see every part of them, otters days there are clouds, mist or haze. The colors as the sun rises are nothing less than glorious. I go from the macro view of the mountains to the micro experience of bees climbing around flowers to ducks gliding on water. Just taking notice helps with your Walking Meditation.

Acknowledging what you are seeing, hearing, feeling, tasting, and smelling. Not only does doing these various practises help with a successful Walking Meditation but also acknowledging what you are doing helps. In essence you are having an ongoing conversation with yourself about what you are doing, how you are feeling and how the various sensations affect you. This ongoing conversation keeps you present. You are so busy you don’t have time to have your mind wander! (or so you wish…)

Continuously touch base with the basics. My mind does wander. Some thought creeps into my head and I start thinking about other things other than what I am doing at the present moment. What I have found is that when this happens I go back to the basics. I start over by thinking about my feet, how they are touching the pavement, how that feels and being very aware of my movement, one foot in front of the other. It gets me back on track. It also does get easier the more your practise Walking Meditation.

Be mindful of your attitude and how you express that on your face. Some days are just harder than others. You get up tired, you are mad about something or frustrated. It is nearly impossible to have a constructive Walking Meditation if you hold on to those thoughts. You have to let them go. Attitude is everything. I find by taking a few deep breaths and literally putting a smile on my face I can shift my thinking, let go of the negative and get into the benefit of my Walking Meditation. It is quantifiable how much better I feel at the end of my walk compared to how I felt at the beginning.

Everyday I see Something New on my Walking Meditations
Taking photos to capture simple beauty. One of my favorite activities on my walks is to stop occasionally to take a picture of something I find particularly beautiful, especially flowers. IT is such a peaceful action for me. I find it heightens my enjoyment and allows me to focus on the present and where I am in that specific moment. It also gives me an image to look back at to further extend the enjoyment.

During my month long Fitbit Challenge my Walking Meditations are a particular pleasure. I typically walk for just over an hour and achieve around 7,000 steps towards my daily goal of 10,000. It is a great way to start the day.


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