An Introduction to Walking Meditation
Most people think that meditation involves sitting cross legged, eyes closed, saying “Om,” and withdrawing from the world. That is one type of meditation, and it has its uses. However, it is not the only kind of meditation. Some types of meditation are downright active. If you are interested in the benefits that meditation brings, such as stress reduction and feelings of calm and peace, but are put off by the practice described above, try walking meditation. It not only has those benefits, it can also invigorate your body and sharpen your mind.
What Is Walking Meditation?
In many forms of meditation, you focus your mind on your breathing. In some forms, you count, or focus on a mantra such as “Om.” With walking meditation, the object of your focus is the walking itself. On one level, that means being aware of the world around you, especially things like cars and other pedestrians. But it’s more than that.
You should focus on the whole experience. Be aware of the feeling of the breeze on your face, the sounds of the place you’re walking in, and the pressure of your feet on the ground. Be aware of the ways your leg muscles contract and extend. Feel the rhythm of your stride, and note how it compares to the rhythm of your breath. The important thing is to be in a meditative state while you are having all of this awareness. It may be more complex than just focusing on your breathing or a mantra, but it is essentially the same thing. Just be aware of everything with the naïve mind: be simply aware, and nothing more. Don’t react to things more than you need to. Do not judge what you are aware of. Just be.
The Benefits of Walking Meditation
Like any kind of meditation, walking meditation can help reduce stress and bring feelings of calm and peace. Unlike other types of meditation, you are also getting in some exercise while you are meditating. Getting your heart pumping a little can bring a feeling of invigoration. Feeling calm, peaceful, and invigorated all at once can be a real benefit, making it easier to focus on whatever tasks you have to do while not getting stressed out about doing them.
Also, walking is an aerobic exercise. If you practice walking meditation regularly, you are helping yourself stay fit and maybe even improve your physical health a little.
If you want something to help deal with the stress and fatigue of a busy schedule, or even if you just don’t like seated meditation, then walking meditation could be just what you need. Try it and see if it works for you.