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Walking Meditation

Mar 02, 2024

 

 

A different way to meditate

There are lots of different ways to meditate. If sitting on your meditation cushion is causing you back pain and anxiety, it might be time to try something new. I first came across Thich Nhat Hanh’s guide on walking meditation at a hostel along the Camino Santiago (a lot of walking). The simple yet powerful lessons in meditation while moving my feet transformed a frequently monotonous journey into an act of love and transformation. 

 

If you’re ready to try a new form of meditation here are a few key takeaways that have stuck with me.

 

Don’t walk with a destination in mind

I’m all about goal setting and planning and efficiency. The world we live in rewards thinking ahead and hurrying from task to task. The time you spend in meditation is the time you give yourself permission to exist in the present without hurrying. We are after all human beings, not human doings. I often remember a passage from the guide that points out the effect we have in our environment. How much less stressful would rush hour be if everyone walked or drove as if they didn’t have a destination in mind?

 

Be consistent

Any meditation practice requires time and patience. If you are choosing to walk as a form of meditation, you must show up and walk. Having a walking meditation some days, a sitting meditation other days, a journaling meditation another day. They are all wonderful, but you will see better results if you can choose one and stick with it. While walking on the Camino, I didn’t truly feel like I was sinking into my meditation until I had spent two weeks on the road. Give it time. The days you don’t feel like showing up are the days you have the greatest opportunity for growth.

 

Breath, count, walk, smile

During any meditation practice we choose to focus our attention on one thing, a mantra, the breath, an image. During a walking meditation focus your attention by counting your breath and your steps. Count 2-4 steps inhaling then 2-4 exhaling. Smile. Smile with your face. But also smile with your feet. Smile with your heart. Whatever part of your body you can feel the most strongly, imagine that part of your body is smiling.

 

Be grateful

One of the quotes that has stuck with me through all the traveling, running, hiking and walking I’ve done is Thich Nhat Hanh’s advice ‘Walk as though you are kissing the ground with your feet.” Certainly, this might mean ‘move slowly and mindfully. But for me it also means to move across our wonderful world with love and gratitude. No matter how fast you’re walking, the most beneficial thing you can do for your meditation practice is to take the time out of your day to feel grateful.

 

Ready to get started?

Thich Nhat Hanh doesn’t mention posture. But beginning your walking meditation with good walking form will make the whole experience more enjoyable and beneficial. Here are Five Easy Self Checks you can make for your walking posture.

 

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