When was the last time you walked alone in the city or your local neighbourhood? What other activities were you indulging in while walking? Were you preoccupied with your thoughts or spoke to someone on the phone? When we think about meditation, we visualise a person in a seated position, calmly practising mindfulness. However, one does not have to be seated when meditating. You can practice it in motion as well.
This technique is perfect for people who love to be always in motion. Don’t confuse walking meditation with walking around with closed eyes. That could be quite dangerous. Instead, here we have our eyes wide open and pick a pace that suits us the best. Simultaneously, attending to all the stimuli present around us and being one with the environment.
Top 5 Benefits Of Walking Meditation
1. Physiological Benefits
Walking as an exercise comes with innumerable health benefits. Walking as a practice boosts digestion and blood circulation, decreases feelings of sluggishness, and raises energy levels and metabolism. Also, it nudges us to lose the extra few pounds. If your nature of work involves remaining seated at one place for extended periods then nothing can aid you better than walking meditation. And as you age, it’s necessary that you remain active as a measure to take care of your overall health.
2. Psychological Aids
If you are suffering from anxiety and finding it difficult to control your stress levels then you may find mindfulness walking technique pretty useful. Several studies across the globe have highlighted that regularly walking reduces anxiety and stress. A study had shown that older people had fewer symptoms of depression after practising Buddhist walking meditation 3 times a week for 3 continuous months.
3. Healthy Sleep Cycle
People who suffer from insomnia or have abnormal sleeping patterns have benefitted immensely from walking meditation. It channelizes the excess energy in your body, making you feel a lot relaxed once you finish this mindful exercise for a day. Hence, sleep becomes more enjoyable.
4. Nudges Creativity And Strengthens Concentration
Walking meditation benefits you by giving you a clear head which in return helps you to be more focussed, driven and stimulated. It’s not just about being goal-oriented, studies have found a direct link between mindfulness and creativity. The clarity makes you solution-oriented and gives a full-swing to your creativity.
5. A Strong Connection With Environment
We are an inseparable part of the environment. With the help of walking meditation, we develop a strong situational awareness. Other times, we might walk mindlessly, without paying any attention to the things around us. It’s more like a journey from one place to another. However, walking meditation makes you deeply aware of the environment, forming a relationship with it. In some cases, the experience can be profound as your awareness goes beyond just walking carelessly.
Types Of Walking Meditation
1. Zen Walking Meditation
Zen walking meditation is a spiritual practice. It is a unique procedure, traditionally practised by monks. The process is very gentle and slow. Different Zen monasteries practice their own methods. You find your rhythm and walk slowly, focusing entirely on how you feel as your feet touch the ground every time. The length of the strides will be according to your comfort, synchronized with your breathing. Lift one foot as you inhale, and when it touches the ground, exhale.
2. Breathing-Centric Walking Meditation
Breathing-centric walking meditation, which is also referred to as Pranayama, is widely known for having therapeutic benefits. It’s a breathing exercise, which can be performed as we walk. There are different forms of Pranayama. It can be simply explained as the vital flow of energy in our body as controlled by our breathing. Here, you can count your steps evenly as you inhale. However, the count of your steps will be longer as you exhale.
3. Mindful Observation
Here, you shift your focus to different objects as you walk, experiencing all the stimuli that come your way. You become aware of the environment and experience a plethora of different sensations. The wind, the temperature, the sounds around you, and so much more. It will be a unique experience every time you step out and practice such as mindfulness walking.
4. Mantra Meditation
In order to get rid of unwanted thoughts and control your breathing, you repeat a phrase. This phrase acts as a mantra. A lot of people find this technique helpful as it gives your mind something to focus on. The sole purpose of this phrase or mantra is to make you feel positive, confident, and optimistic while you are practising walking meditation.
Step-By-Step Guide To Practice Walking Meditation
1. Select A Place
The first step of practising mindful walking meditation is picking a place, where you can walk freely and won’t have any obstacles. A location that is not overcrowded and away from traffic. Also, as you walk, you have to stop being wary of others’ presence, which will eventually come with practice.
2. Anchor Yourself
Before you start your walk, take a deep breath, pay attention to your body. Also, the different sensations that you feel at the very moment. Tell yourself how you feel and start taking slow steps. Direct your attention to the movement of your feet and legs. Initially, try walking for 10 minutes at least. Later, once you get a hang of it, you can fix a suitable duration.
3. Be Mindful As You Take Each Step
As you observe and become more aware of the various physical sensations, objects, and people around you, ask yourself how you feel. Try not to be too conscious of yourself as it will make the process mechanical. Relax and go with your natural flow.
4. Pace & Pose
Maintain a slower and comfortable pace. You can let your hands and arms swing loosely by your sides or hold them behind your back. Your body will be upright. Try not stooping or hunching. You will notice that practice will only make it easier each day.
Consistency is the key when you are practising any mindful exercise. Walking meditation allows you to form and grow a strong bond with your organic surroundings. With practice and consistency, you will be able to attain inner calm to an extent. This unique and enriching form of meditation is specially designed to make us profoundly aware of the environment, syncing our mind and body in harmony at the same time.
FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions
Q. What is the optimum duration of walking meditation?
A. There is no optimum duration as it is highly subjective and varies from person to person. You can start with 10 minutes a day and increase the duration according to your convenience. With training, you will be able to gradually increase the time.
Q. Is there any specific time of the day when practising walking meditation will be more beneficial?
A. There is no specific time for practising walking meditation. It entirely depends on your convenience. Ideally, our mind is fresh in the morning, and it’s easier for us to concentrate early in the day. So, practising walking meditation early in the morning can be advisable.
Q. Does walking meditation induce muscular pain?
A. If you have not been into any kind of physical activity or exercise lately then initially your legs and back might hurt. It generally diminishes over time as our body becomes used to it. In case, you still experience pain after practising walking meditation regularly then you can consult a doctor.
Q. Do I need a coach or a trainer to practise walking meditation?
A. It’s not mandatory to take the help of a trainer or a coach to practice walking meditation. You can read articles, books, and watch videos on the internet to learn the various techniques of walking meditation. You will be able to get the basics with practice. However, if you want to gain advanced knowledge in the subject matter and become an expert then you can seek guidance from a trainer.
Q: Is it necessary to chant a mantra when practising walking meditation?
A: There are different techniques for walking meditation. One of them is called Mantra meditation, in which you practice walking while chanting a mantra. There is not a specific mantra though. It could be anything like a simple sentence or a phrase that gives you confidence and motivation.
Q: How do I know if I am practising walking meditation correctly?
A: Pay attention to your breathing pattern while you start taking the steps. Relax and keep your daily worries at bay. Don’t get bothered if you cannot keep a clear head in the beginning. It will come easily through practice. Follow the steps of walking meditation and go with your natural flow. You will be on the right track.