Whenever you think about meditation, the usual position is a seated person with eyes closed. Yet, that is not the only meditation position available. You can meditate while walking and get to enjoy a wide range of benefits.
What is Walking Meditation?
Walking meditation can be described as meditation in motion. You do not close your eyes, but you are standing and moving to interact with the outside world. It is, however, different from your usual stroll down the park employing a much slower pace.
You will need to coordinate your breathing as well as the steps to create a rhythm. You may also use other focusing techniques to keep you in the present moment and help you develop a steady rhythm.
Walking meditation vs. Seated meditation
While seated meditation is a simple and common meditation practice, walking meditation offers a different take to it and new opportunities for you to integrate regular meditation in your life.
Usually, seated meditation requires you to identify a specific time and place that you will be free from any distraction to focus your mind on finding inner peace. Unfortunately, even for five-minute meditation periods, this cannot be easy.
The other challenge of seated meditation is getting yourself in the present moment, especially if you are looking to practice mindful meditation. It is easy to get lost in thoughts, but walking meditation offers you plenty of bodily sensations to focus on, and it is far much more comfortable to develop a breathing rhythm.
Another advantage walking meditation offers over seated meditation is slowly easing back from meditation and holding on the inner peace longer. When the meditation is done, you are most likely to keep walking and focused on the present moment, unlike in seated meditation, where the transition feels like a snap.
The comfort of moving around also means you can practice walking meditation for a longer duration than seated meditation. There are no issues of pain coming from the posture used, and it is a method that works well with everyone from beginners to those seeking advanced meditation.
The advantages of walking meditation have been recognized since ancient times, and it is a practice that is even incorporated in the seated meditation to break up the monotony. If you are a busy person, walking meditation comes in handy because you frequently take walks to and from work and even during daily activities like shopping and over the weekends when you visit parks.
All you need is about ten minutes of this period to fit in your meditation. Ultimately, both seated and walking meditation have their strengths, and you should try them out both and find one that best serves your needs.
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Types of Walking Meditation
There are different types of walking meditation techniques differing in place and the pace used and the nature of the walking meditation. Here is a look at some of them.
Guided Walking Meditation
Guided meditation, as the name suggests, is when you have an instructor taking you through meditation. It is a powerful way to immerse yourself fully into meditation, particularly for beginners. You can get the same instruction when doing walking meditation.
Guided walking meditation helps you get in the right frame of mind faster, and the instructor lets you visualize the images and experiences you can anchor your meditation on.
Guided meditation can be used to achieve specific outcomes like trigger spiritual healing and relieving stress. The guide is usually in the form of a recording you can easily download and use from your phone when you start your meditation.
Indoor Walking Meditation
Weather and other limitations may mean you cannot access your outdoors whenever you want. As a result, you are limited to space in your room. Fortunately, you can still practice indoor walking using any of the other walking techniques.
It should not be confused with restless pacing, so the pace starts to form a comfortable rhythm, and as you settle into it and become more aware of the different sensations, you slow down the speed even more.
Mindfulness Walking Meditation
Mindfulness walking meditation is the base for all the other modern forms of walking meditation. It is an adaptation of the traditional Buddhist meditation practice.
Instead of focusing on the soles of your feet, it is open to the variety of perception, and you employ all your senses to the things and stimuli around you as you immerse yourself in the full walking experience. It allows you to examine your physical body and mental state and adapt and shape themselves to the walk.
Thich Nhat Hanh Meditation
The main difference in this walking meditation technique is the addition of affirmation statements that aim to create a positive mental state. It follows the guidelines of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Vietnamese Buddhist monk, and requires slow walking while being aware of all the sensations around you and expressing your gratitude.
You say the affirmations every time you inhale and every time you exhale. For example, as you breathe in, you can say, ‘I have arrived’ As you breathe out, you say, ‘I am home.’
Zen Walking Meditation
Japanese Zen walking is traditionally known as kinhin. It is usually done in a room so that it can be considered a form of indoor walking, but it has specific instructions on the walking posture and direction.
You have to walk clockwise while maintaining the shashu position. You move your legs, starting with the right one after a complete breath cycle.
Walking Meditation Grounding
Grounding is an essential aspect of meditation. It is also known as earthing. It performs the function of revitalizing the electric charge in your body by its negative charge, which helps balance the numerous positive charged ions in your body that are weighing it down.
Benefits of grounding include revitalizing your energy, reduce inflammation, boosts your mood, helps with the quality of your sleep, alleviate muscle and joint pain, and reduces your stress levels.
Walking provides a more natural way to add grounding to your meditation. All you need to do is find a place you will be comfortable walking barefoot and use any walking meditation technique.
You start your meditation, centering yourself by feeling the earth with your feet’ soles and taking in the sensations throughout your body. Make every step purposeful, explore the changes, and engage all your senses to take in nature’s richness.
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Walking Meditation Instructions
Walking meditation does not require plenty of distance or time. The instructions here follow guidelines provided by expert Jon Kabat-Zinn.
To gain the most benefit and see the impact of meditation on your life, you need to practice it for at least 10 minutes for about a week. Here are the steps to follow:
- Pick a suitable location. You will need a place that offers you at least the chance to walk ten to 15 paces back and forth. It should be peaceful with minimal chance of disturbance and where you will not attract attention since the small steps, and slow walking nature can appear strange to people not used to it.
- Start your steps from one end and complete the 10 -15 mark, then stop and breathe for as long as you will need before walking back and repeating the same thing. As you do this, break down each step’s components deliberately from lifting the foot off the ground, carrying it, placing it in-front, healing, and switching the body weight as you prepare to lift the other one.
- While you can choose a speed most comfortable to you, the pace is deliberately languid and small steps in most techniques. The most important thing, however, is to feel natural.
- Should you realize that your mind wondering, accept the thought or feeling, and guide yourself back to your walking rhythms through a mantra, breathing, or any of the present objects and sounds around you.
- Focussing your attention is easy since you are looking to keep your mind in the present, and outdoors present numerous sensations as does the act of walking. You have to focus on the actions and things you usually take for granted, like how your head is balanced on the neck and shoulders.
- Your posture is important, use an upright and relaxed position with no slouching and stiffening you can put your arms either hanging freely at your sides or clasp them at the front or behind.
Related reading: 8 Health Benefits of Meditation – What the Newest Research Shows
Benefits of Walking Meditation
Walking meditation offers both benefits you would get from physical activity as well as from meditation. Its benefits are both physical and mental and include the following;
- It helps make the blood circulation more efficient and effective, especially to the lower body alleviating stagnancy and sluggishness.
- When combined with meditation, walking has significant results in combating stress compared to walking only.
- It has also been shown that people who practice walking meditation for 30 minutes at least three times a week have better blood sugar levels, especially for people with type 2 diabetes.
- Walking meditation improves your general well-being, decreasing anxiety levels, blood pressure, and enhancing the individuals’ mood.
- Walking meditation also helps improve your creativity as it relaxes the mind and brings clarity focus in your thinking, which stimulates creativity.
- Walking meditation also helps improve your general fitness and balance as you are mindful of your coordination, and it helps add up to your general physical activity.
- Walking meditation also offers better sleep quality as it improves your muscle flexibility while reducing muscle tension and calms your mind.
- The walking action helps you improve digestion as it helps food move through the digestive tract and aids release of gas from the stomach and also aids in preventing constipation.
You do not need a lot to start walking meditation, and it is a good practice, especially if you are looking for light physical activity. You can also add it at the end or beginning of your regular workout or routine from work or during usual strolls.
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