Mindfulness: Walking meditation

When you hear meditation, you’ll probably have a specific image in mind. A person sitting cross-legged on the floor, eyes closed and in complete stillness. Many forms of meditation comply with this image. However, not all of them. In this entry, I want to introduce a different type of meditation: walking meditation.

In the quest to become more mindful, many people say that finding a dedicated time and place to sit down in stillness to meditate is the biggest hindrance in starting the habit. I have been there, too. Starting a habit is always the hardest. We are so occupied in our daily lives that, once finally having time to rest, we are not delighted of the prospect to put some more energy in something else. Even if this something might be good for us. That is why it makes sense to infuse some mindfulness in activities we do every single day. One such activity I hope each of us does is walking =)

Again, so much as five minutes a day is a wonderful start. But how is it done?

There is a standard way of walking meditation and an extended way of walking meditation. I will present both of them here.

The standard way:

This is for all of us who have busy days and little time. If that is entirely true is another question. But, let us assume that it can’t be changed, but we want to start being more mindful.

As in doing regular mediation, we also need an anchor. What the breath is for regular meditation, is the sensation of our feet on the ground for walking meditation. If your mind wandered off and you realized it, simply bring back your attention to the sensation of your feet hitting the ground. You can extend your focus to other sensations, too. For example, if you are going by bus or train you and you are standing without the chance of movement, observe how your body moves along the movements of the bus or train. You can also listen to all the noises around you. Not a particular conversation where the chance is big that your mind will be consumed by its content, but all the sounds and the symphony they create together.

Another sensation we can focus our attention towards is our skin. Is it cold because of ice or rain, or is it warm because of the sun? Observe where it feels cold and where it feels warm. Does it change? With that we are approaching the extended version of walking meditation.

The extended way:

The extended way includes everything from the standard way. The extended way is best done in nature, but can be executed everywhere you want. Of course, everything can also be done standing in a bus or a train, but I find it more calming and energizing when done in nature.

If possible, do it barefoot. Feel the sensation of your feet touching the ground. Is it hard, is it soft? Is it cold, wet, or warm? It is painful or comfortable? Every sensation is worth investigating. You can touch your environment. For example, you can pick up a stone. How does it texture feel? Again, is it cold or soft? Is it heavy or light? How does the sensation of the wind feel on your skin? What can you hear? What can you smell? Be as curious as possible and stick with each sensation for 20-30 seconds. Or longer, if you want. Try to include all of your senses.

So, the next time you are commuting to work or to another place, why not trying out some walking meditation? I mean you have to get there anyway. And it is a wonderful way to become more mindful in your life.

 

Have a wonderful day and take care =)

Stephan

 

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