Why You Should Incorporate Walking Meditation Into Your Everyday… Today!
By Krupa Balasubramanya - December 21, 2021
I’m betting that if I asked you to picture a person in deep meditation right now, you might imagine someone sitting alone or in relative solitude, most likely cross-legged on a yoga mat, their palms resting upward and draped casually to the side. Perhaps the golden brass of a gong dissolves through the air every now and then as their lips slightly part, their eyes closed, their mind and soul sinking deep and deeper into a womb-like Zen. Such is the convention of many meditational depictions in the western world. If your image was just the same or similar to the one just described, you aren’t alone. While it’s true that seated, solitary meditation is a proven way to relax the body and the mind, inviting greater clarity and calm into one’s day-to-day, it is, of course, just one way that greater Zen can be achieved. For some, the aesthetic itself is just too much. Maybe you don’t own a Tibetan gong (most people don’t) or a yoga mat or even a pair of yoga pants. Maybe you spend all day sitting at an office desk or strapped into the seat of a car. Maybe the thought of having to sit anywhere at all for any length of time practically bores you to tears. In these instances, maybe spending ten to thirty minutes of your day sitting down just doesn’t have the same appeal. Sitting on top of sitting on top of sitting. As if we don’t get enough of that already!
While what we describe above is a popular option when it comes to practicing meditation, it is missing the point entirely to focus meditation solely on one’s environment and posture. While many meditation apps available on the market today will advise you to find some place quiet and free of distraction in order to meditate, this is only because it helps in general to facilitate the ultimate goal of mindfulness and relaxation—But here’s the thing about generalizations: They usually only tell one part of the story.
In reality, meditation can be done practically anywhere at any time. One of our favorite ways to meditate is through movement! Walking meditation, also known as kinhin, can be a great way to break up the monotony of a sedentary lifestyle. We find that it is most effective when combined with a seated meditation practice, but are also wary to suggest that meditation be an all or nothing sport. If you’re looking for a great way to begin to incorporate mindfulness and meditation into your everyday life—Or if you need a change to your seated meditation routine—Then this life-giving practice is for you!
Not so much a practice to completely empty one’s mind, the real benefits to meditation center around reducing stress, anxiety, depression and pain while increasing peace, perceptiveness, self-esteem and well-being. Much of this is achieved through the meditational practice of mindfulness, which refers to the quality or state of being conscious or aware of something. So much of the emotional baggage we carry is tied to latent trauma and subconscious insecurity. A mindful meditation practice is a safe way to train your mind to acknowledge these insecurities and, better yet, let them go! It’s also an important and intentional part of walking meditation.
Keep in mind as you go that mindfulness—as with all changes in deep thought habits—is meant to improve the more you practice it. In other words, don’t feel discouraged if your first walk around the block doesn’t go so hot. We suggest you start with 10 minute each day for one week, then re-evaluate how you feel!
Here’s what you’re going to do:
1. Find a Safe Place to Walk
For this, the busiest road in your neighborhood may not be the best choice. Find a quiet neighborhood or your favorite park—Some place where you’re not likely to be run over by bikes, cars, or skateboards. Oh yeah, and we almost forgot: For this, put the cell phone on silent and leave the earbuds at home.
It’s really that simple. To start, we recommend taking note of where you begin and choosing a point in the distance—Perhaps a lamp post or simply a set of 10-15 paces in front of you. When you reach this point, turn around and go back to where you begin. Note how the world feels similar yet different as you retrace your steps through this renewed perspective. When you get back to where you began, go ahead and breathe for as long as you deem necessary. Feel the fresh air fill and leave your lungs.
3. Mind Your Pace
Walking meditation is meant to synchronize the body with the mind. Pay attention to how your body feels as you pick up one foot and then the other. Your gait should feel natural and free. In other words, walk the way your body wants to walk. Choose a speed that feels natural. Slowness is key. For the purposes of meditation, we are not concerned with aerobic activity or distance.
If you feel led, take a moment to pause and explore these muscles: flex your ankle, lift your knees, squat, swing your arms and shift your weight from one foot to the other. Notice all the things your body does for you on a daily basis without your even realizing it. Acknowledge any aches or pains you might feel. (Note: Do NOT push through any pain! See your doctor if pain persists.) Gently lean into any stretch that feels stiff or uncomfortable.
Notice how your breathe lines up with your gait. Thank the universe for providing you with this life-giving air to fuel your muscles and feed your brain! As you move along in your practice, briefly experiment with different levels of aerobic intensity. Notice how your breath will follow suit. Overtime, you may find that this awareness extends to your everyday life!
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