The research shows mindfulness increases the more you practice it. Sometimes meditating can feel like another thing to add to your to do list but there is actually many ways to practice; eating, drinking, sitting, movement and walking. Todays blog shares the most recent practice I have added to our new edition workbooks; the walking meditation. The walking meditation instruction is not so much a guided practice but if you have a read of how it is done and then go for a walk, the idea is you remember some of the guiding principles and adapt it to the walk you’re on.
Location: Find a location that you can walk to or walk about in. At first you might think this has to be quiet and peaceful but that’s not necessarily so. Nature can be very relaxing but you can also bring peace to the walking meditation in an urban environment meditating among cars and architecture- it all depends on how willing you’re are to hold your attention in non-judgement. The walking meditation can be fairly slow so you might want to find somewhere where there isn’t too much traffic if you feel a bit shy at first because you might get some onlookers. And remember the walking meditation isn’t about reaching a destination it’s about the steps.
Taking steps: Begin taking steps really slowly, breathing your attention into the legs and feeling the foot as it comes in contact with the ground. Then pause and breathe in and turn and retrace your steps and continue with the walking and breathing into the body.
Your attention: As you step through deliberately bring your attention to all the sensations you’re experiencing systematically. Play with the shift of weight through one foot to the other, slow things down if you find you’re compelled to rush through to the next step, explore the desire to move automatically, feel into the changing sensations up through the legs, hips and back. When you pause notice the quality of thoughts, feelings and sensations in the body once you stop before you turn. Notice the foot when it swings and allow the heel to come into contact with the ground first and then the shift in balance in the body before the next foot reaches the floor. Notice the core muscles in the stomach, and the upright posture in the back.
Speed: You can walk at your own pace or any speed you choose. But remember to keep it natural not exaggerated or stylised.
Hands: You can place your hands behind your back or allow them to hang in front of you and swing gently.
Mind: When the mind wanders or gets distracted gently guide it back using the breath as an anchor to the present. Try placing the mind on the things you normally do automatically but this time with attentiveness and let your curiosity be with it, like the breath flowing in and out of the body, the movement of the feet and legs, the feet reaching the ground, the head balanced on the neck, sounds coming in from the environment or your body or the vision that is coming into your eyes of what is in front of you.
Daily Life: Now that you have the basic idea of the walking meditation you can try bringing this practice to your everyday life. Perhaps you need to walk from the train to the office, take your dog for a walk or walking to the shops or for your morning coffee, these are all good opportunities to practice the walking meditation and developing mindfulness. You can practice this meditation at any pace, even running. I used to practice a meditation while running and would always be pleasantly surprised in the performance of my body. Mindful running with attention on breath and heart allowed me to relax any restriction in muscles while sprinting- I found the heart muscle and the circulation throughout the whole body expand, allowing my muscle performance and movement to power up. This kind of practice was also a great resiliency builder! The walking meditation allows you to bring a mindful presence to everyday life and grow your ability to maintain awareness during activities that unfold in our everyday life.
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Written by Marion Millerby