Walking Meditation: How to Meditate While Walking
Meditation is a practice that many people have included in their daily routines. Finding time to meditate is just like finding time to exercise. After all, the benefits of meditation can improve your overall well-being just like being active.
For some people, meditation may be a difficult practice to start because of time. Maybe you don’t have a moment in the day that is free enough to give yourself time to meditate. For others, finding a place to meditate may be an obstacle. It’s pretty tough to meditate if it’s noisy at home. All of these things and more can stop you from starting your mindful meditation journey. But what if you can fit meditation into something you already do daily, like going for a walk?
Mindful walking is a great option for people who can’t overcome problems of time and place for meditation. Adding a regular meditation practice to your everyday life has many benefits, including better mental health, decreased stress levels, better self-awareness, and more.
What Is Walking Meditation?
For some people, walking is the primary way from getting from one place to another. Some individuals may consider walking as their favorite choice of exercise and activity. Walking meditation is a meditation technique that focuses on cultivating mindfulness while using physical movements like walking.
This technique is used to bring the body and mind together. During walking meditation, you are not focused on walking as an exercise or what you regularly do. Instead, this meditation practice helps you to focus on training yourself to be more mindful. You are guided to release your negative thoughts and emotions as you continue focusing on the present moment.
Guided Walking Meditation
If you are new to meditation, it may be difficult to get your mind and body to agree with your new practice. It’s like introducing new food to a baby. In the beginning stages, it may also be a tough task to completely focus on your walking meditation. You may get carried away with not knowing what to contemplate as you walk.
These are all excellent reasons why using a guide for your meditation can be very helpful. With guided meditation, someone will guide you through your meditation. This helps bring focus so that you never stray away for too long if you get caught in your thoughts. Your guide will take you through breathing exercises and clearing your mind as you get deeper into your walk. While you are paying attention to your breathing, you may realize your mind begins to shift.
Guided meditation isn’t just for walking. Meditation techniques like sitting meditation also make use of a guide to help people who are fairly new or just need assistance. You can find a guide for walking meditations with things like online audio, subscriptions, videos, or podcasts.
What is mindfulness and how is it achieved?
Mindfulness is being aware and focused on the present moment. While this may seem like a small and doable task to some people, being mindful is a struggle for many others. It’s easy to get distracted and caught up in your thoughts throughout the day. Sometimes, these thoughts can be so troublesome that they interfere with your sleep, keeping you up at night. This can lead to things like sleep deprivation and other serious health conditions.
Even though mindfulness deals with the mental state, it can be achieved through things you already do in your daily life—exercising, sitting, standing, and moving around. Being mindful can reduce stress and anxiety, as well as give you self and social awareness.
When you practice mindfulness, it is a judgment-free zone. The focus at this moment is creating a natural environment for yourself to understand how your mind works and your thoughts and feelings towards things. This will help you approach future situations in a soft and welcoming manner, for yourself and others. This is how practicing mindfulness meditation can also help the overall well-being of the people around you as well. Creating an atmosphere of mindfulness can help you during stressful times.
Are there benefits to walking meditation?
When talking about the benefits of walking meditation, there are two sides to look at. While mindfulness practices like this have a focus on meditation, there is also a physical aspect to it. Walking can help:
- Lower the risk of heart disease.
- Lower blood pressure.
- Maintain a healthy weight by decreasing body fat.
- Improve muscle endurance.
- Strengthen bones.
- Boost immune health.
Walking also comes with some other unusual benefits that many people may not be aware of, like providing relief for a toothache.
Adding meditation to your walk comes with another handful of benefits. Mindful walking can:
Help with the mind-body connection.
As you are walking, pay attention to the physical sensations that you experience. Just like body scans, you take time to acknowledge the things you feel and understand them. This can even come down to your posture. Some individuals may realize that they need improvement in their posture and regular bodily movements.
Improve sleep quality.
Walking meditations also help improve sleep quality. Mental health issues like stress, anxiety, and depression can lead to insomnia and sleep deprivation. That’s because your thoughts have a way of keeping you awake at night and disturbing your sleep. These types of thoughts are usually based on things that are currently happening in your life and may lead to short-term, or acute, insomnia. Fortunately, acute insomnia can be cured with certain lifestyle changes.
If you’ve been battling thoughts that lead to a lack of sleep for an extended period, it can lead to long-term or chronic insomnia.
Walking meditation can help decrease these sleepless nights by increasing the relaxing hormones you need to sleep. Simultaneously, meditation also decreases stress hormones like cortisol.
Help you become more aware.
Throughout the day, your mind may be filled with all the things that are bothering you—past occurrences and future ones. This can be an unsettling feeling. During walking meditation, you are focused on the present moment. Instead of worrying and overthinking, you are encouraged to focus on your inward self, physical feelings, and your current surroundings. This is your time to take in the moment so that you can become more aware.
Building awareness also helps you learn how to gain more control of your emotions. This way, you can have a more calm approach, even in stressful situations. Mindful walking also helps provide mental clarity on any challenges you may be facing because you get a chance to slow down your racing thoughts and take a moment to think about how things can work.
How to Meditate While Walking
Walking meditation is a very simple practice that anyone can do as long as they have mobility. Here is how you can perform mindful walking and engage with your thoughts more.
Find a location
When choosing a location to do mindful walking, be sure to choose one that is free of obstacles. It is better to choose a flat surface so you can avoid discomfort. Going up a hill may be a bit of a workout for some people and can take away from their focus. If you are a seasoned meditation walker, feel free. Also, make sure that the ground you walk on is clear of clutter or anything that may cause you to trip.
It may be difficult to find a location with zero distractions, but choosing a calm setting is very important. Some people may choose to practice walking meditation indoors in their homes because that is their personal space and they can set the environment any way they choose. Doing mindful walking in your home is also great when you don’t want to get in the way of others in a public space. It’s also much easier to pace back and forth when you are in your own space. If you do choose to use a public area, use a less busy place. A trail at the park or in your neighborhood is a great choice.
Once you find your walking location, you can begin by taking 10 to 20 steps. These steps should be slow and controlled, much slower than your normal walking pace. Be deliberate about your steps and guide yourself into a walking rhythm that will help you become centered.
If you are walking in an enclosed space, like your home, you are most likely to hit an obstacle—like furniture, or a wall. If this occurs, just turn around slowly and start walking in the same direction that you came from. Be careful not to break your walking rhythm or interrupt your movement.
Bring awareness to your body
At this time, take notice of your body and the things that you are experiencing at that moment. You should also pay attention to your breathing. Take deep breaths and breathe intentionally through your nose and out of your mouth.
Notice how your legs feel as they are moving and how your feet feel when they make contact with the ground on each step. You will realize that these things help you to simply notice the physical sensations that are occurring in your body.
Some people may like to start their walking meditation off by focusing and breathing before moving because it helps them relax and loosen up. During this time, you are free to close your eyes for a few minutes and visualize. This helps you relax and can help lower your heart rate.
Realize your surroundings
People may think that meditation is all about thinking about one specific thing for a certain amount of time. To them, the moment you think about something else, you’ve failed at meditation and you aren’t good at it. These thoughts sometimes deter people from meditating because remaining focused may be hard for them.
During meditation, it’s normal for outside thoughts to appear. If your mind wanders, don’t be hard on yourself. Remember that meditation is a judgment-free practice. Environmental factors, sounds, or your own thoughts and emotions may come up during your meditation session.
When doing mindful walking, take notice of the things around you. If you’re walking outdoors, take notice of things like a flower or the sunshine. Realizing these things can bring a refreshing feeling to your body as you walk. When this happens, it’s also important to acknowledge your thoughts. You may take notice of everything, including sounds, then shift back to your breathing and mindful walking.
Make it a habit
Just like any other meditation practice, or even exercising, walking meditations have to be done consistently so that you can reap the benefits of it. Try to do mindful walking meditation for 10 to 15 minutes every day. It can take up to four weeks before you see noticeable changes.
Being mindful can help you achieve levels of peace and serenity that you may not normally experience. You don’t have to struggle with negative thoughts and sleepless nights. The BetterSleep app has hundreds of meditations to choose from for whatever type of meditation you want to try—body scans, meditations for faster sleep, and meditations to decrease stress.
Meditation is a practice that people of all ages can do. As long as you create an atmosphere for meditation that allows you to focus and become one with yourself, you can start your journey with different mindfulness techniques like walking.
The BetterSleep app also has things like soothing sounds that can help set the perfect sleep environment. Why wait? Visit the free app today.
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