It's that time of year again! Time to take our mindfulness practices outdoors. We've brought back one of my very favorite classes to teach: Walking Meditaiton. Sometimes a little movement can help us find that peaceful state we're looking for. Walking also has numerous benefits for overall wellness and can be the perfect pick-me-up for a midday slump.
If you've never done a walking meditation before, have no fear! I've recorded a taste of the practice here. The practice is simple and lovely, especially outdoors in nice weather. But you can practice walking meditation anytime you walk. On your commute. From your car to the grocery store. Walking up your stairs at home. Whenever!
I first became enamored with walking meditation during my 10 day Vipassana meditation retreat several years ago. I wrote about my experience here.
On the grounds of the retreat, which is set on farmland, there was a walking "path" in the grass surrounded by reeds, grasses and trees. I would walk the same path multiple times a day. Sometimes I would count my steps. At the time I could remember exactly how many steps were between each tree, and how many steps would make a whole loop. These details evade me now, but I can still remember the sensation of just walking. No podcasters chatting in my ear (no phones were allowed!), no multitasking, no talking to a friend. This was the first time where I had pure uninterrupted time to just... walk.
Prior to this experience, walking was a necessity - getting from one place to the next. Or, it was for exercise - gotta get those steps in! I found a sweet love for the pure act of walking and paying attention. Paying attention to my surroundings. Looking around as I walked to take in the sights and sounds of the peaceful land. Paying attention to the way my body moves as it walks. The swing of the arms and legs, the placement of the feet, the temperature of the air on my skin. And even the act of paying attention to my mind. Being aware of the thoughts in my head and either just observing them, or choosing to let them go as I walked and found peace and quiet in my mind.
Since then, this practice has evolved for me such that I do practice walking meditation when I am commuting. It's especially fun to walk through the business of the Loop and noticing things that I would normally be to distracted to see. Or, taking my toddler for a stroll, pushing him along in his stroller or kiddo car and just absorbing and watching him take in the scenery. On our walks together he cannot help but point out everything he sees. Truck! Train! Bus! Bird! It's given me a new perspective on being present in the moment. Listening to the sounds and identifying and really hearing them. I swear he can hear a train from miles away and I have to pause and listen to then explain yes! It is a train!