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photo of person waling on path

Walking Meditation – mindful movement in your daily life.

When most of us envision a person meditating, we often see someone sitting crosslegged in a quiet space or perhaps under a tree with eyes closed. This is what meditation often looks like, but it is far from the only way to practice this deep mode of self-care. In fact, for so many of us, our nervous system is a bit too charged up from stressful life or a trauma filled past, and we can’t be expected to just sit and get quiet. So, in comes walking meditation. It is pretty much what it sounds like, meditating while walking (it even kind of looks like a slow speed pacing).

First things first, find your “walking meditation path.”

Walking meditation doesn’t have to be a secluded trail in a mystical forest—your living room or a quiet hallway or your lawn will do just fine. The aim is to walk back and forth in a straight line, about 10 to 20 steps each way. The shorter the path, the better it is for focusing your attention. So, no need to trek up a mountain; a modest stroll will do the trick. Your path should be clear of obstacles.

Before you walk, decide on how long you want to practice. At first, keep it short and attainable, like 3, 5 or 7 minutes. Its much better to set the goal and attain it than to fall short and possibly feel a sense of shame or failure.

As you start your walk, take a few deep breaths. Feel your feet lift off, swing through the air, and make contact with the ground. This isn’t a race; there’s no finish line or trophy, other than achieving a sense of inner peace (and honestly, isn’t that the best prize of all?). Slow and steady wins the serenity race!

Turn your focus inward.

Feel each sensation as your foot lifts off, moves forward, and lands. You’re not just walking; you’re observing the miracle of human motion. You’ll suddenly find a profound connection with something as mundane as putting one foot in front of the other.

If your mind starts to wander off, gently guide it back. Don’t judge or scold; just remind it to focus on the present moment. Remember, this is a judgment-free zone and you are here to practice walking meditation. Think of it as corralling a puppy back to its playpen—gentle but firm.

Now, let’s add some intentionality.

As you lift your foot, breathe in. As you place it back down, breathe out. Linking your breath to your steps creates a rhythm, turning your walk into a moving meditation. It’s like choreographing a dance between your body and mind, a harmonious ballet of being present.

When you reach the end of your path, stand still for a moment. Take a deep breath and notice the calm that has washed over you. Turn around, and start your journey back, carrying this newfound tranquility with you.

Once you have practiced for the length of time you intended, stop. This is the container for your practice, please honor it. Next time, if this practice was too short, you can add a minute or two or more. Oftentimes walking meditation is done in conjunction with seated meditation. So perhaps you sit for a few minutes, then walk for a bit, then sit again.

Make your practice suit you

Craft a practice that you love without worry about how it should be done or how others practice. Over time your practice will become like meeting a good friend for coffee, something you look forward to doing every time it happens.

Remember, dear friends, walking meditation is more than just a stroll in the park. It’s an invitation to slow down, to really experience the world underfoot and the breath flowing through you. So, the next time you’re walking from point A to B, why not take a detour through mindfulness? Your soul will thank you, one step at a time

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