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Walking Meditation- How to Do It

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Meditating and pacing out of anxiety aren’t the same thing, but you may be one of those people who does better while walking.

Some people have a strong urge to walk when they feel anxious or need to think, but this is called pacing.

Pacing

Meditating and pacing out of anxiety aren’t the same thing, but you may be one of those people who does better while walking.

With a walking meditation, you take a walk outside, perhaps in nature, and instead of ruminating on all that you have to get done or all of the conversations you would like to replay, you just walk and breathe. Notice the weather and the nature around you while you breathe deeply.

Example

In Japan, walking in nature is sometimes called “forest bathing,” and I love that term because it captures the powerful sense of peace you can attain by walking among trees.

The Japanese government has spent millions of dollars on research documenting the positive effects of forest bathing on the immune system, and its ability to reduce stress, inflammation, and even blood pressure.
  • While doing a walking meditation, you don’t need to worry about getting exercise, so you should move as slowly as you like.
  •  You are looking for a shift in focus from your swirling thoughts to a complete connection with your breathing and the movement of your body.
  • As with seated meditation, the goal isn’t to suppress your thoughts, but rather to notice them and let them go.

Your job is to focus on your body and your breathing. You will, of course, get distracted by insistent thoughts, but you have the power to turn your attention back to the steps you take and to your breath and surroundings.

People who struggle with anxiety and perfectionism often find that this kind of break in the day takes the edge off. Others, who are stuck in the past, either with grudges or regrets, find the ability to let go for a few minutes at a time. This can be extremely therapeutic.

Experience with a pyschiatrist :-

When I lived in Delhi , I had a uncle who was a psychiatrist. Although he was semiretired, he still saw some patients. But he would meet his patients in the park. He told me that walking in the park felt restful for both doctor and patient and it allowed people to more easily unburden themselves.

He would walk with each patient for about ninety minutes and let them talk. Their thoughts ranged widely from problems to their ambitions. And sometimes they would be silent for stretches of the walk. 

He was an unusual psychiatrist in that he preferred to practice outdoors, and he also gave his patients books to read and talked to them about spirituality as well as psychology.

But it was the walking that helped them the most. They were in a beautiful setting, talking to someone who was actively listening to them, and they were allowed to be silent and have their own insights.

He said he never needed more than four months to get them back on track.

Learn Meditation By Brahma Kumaris…

How Much Time You Need

10 minutes daily for at least a week. Evidence suggests that mindfulness increases the more you practice it.

How to Do It

Find a location

Find a lane that allows you to walk back and forth for 10-15 paces—a place that is relatively peaceful, where you won’t be disturbed or even observed (since a slow, formal walking meditation can look strange to people who are unfamiliar with it).

You can practice walking meditation either indoors or outside in nature.

The lane doesn’t have to be very long since the goal is not to reach a specific destination, just to practice a very intentional form of walking where you’re mostly retracing your steps.

Start Your Steps

Walk 10-15 steps along the lane you’ve chosen, and then pause and breathe for as long as you like.

When you’re ready, turn and walk back in the opposite direction to the other end of the lane, where you can pause and breathe again.

Then, when you’re ready, turn once more and continue with the walk.

The components of each step

Walking meditation involves very deliberating thinking about and doing a series of actions that you normally do automatically.

Breaking these steps down in your mind may feel awkward, even ridiculous.

But you should try to notice at least these four basic components of each step:

a) the lifting of one foot;
b) the moving of the foot a bit forward of where you’re standing;
c) the placing of the foot on the floor, heel first;
d) the shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts, while the toes of that foot remain touching the floor or the ground.
b) observe the back foot as it swings forward and lowers;
c) observe the back foot as it makes contact with the ground, heel first;
d) feel the weight shift onto that foot as the body moves forward.

Speed

You can walk at any speed, but in Kabat-Zinn’s Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program, walking meditation is slow and involves taking small steps.

Most important is that it feel natural, not exaggerated or stylized.

Hands & Arms

You can clasp your hands behind your back or in front of you, or you can just let them hang at your side—whatever feels most comfortable and natural.

Focusing Your Attention

As you walk, try to focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted, such as your breath coming in and out of your body.

The movement of your feet and legs, or their contact with the ground or floor; your head balanced on your neck and shoulders; sounds nearby or those caused by the movement of your body; or whatever your eyes take in as they focus on the world in front of you.

What to do when your mind wanders

No matter how much you try to fix your attention on any of these sensations, your mind will inevitably wander. That’s OK—it’s perfectly natural. When you notice your mind wandering, simply try again to focus it one of those sensations.

Integrating walking meditation into your daily life

For many people, slow, formal walking meditation is an acquired taste. But the more you practice, even for short periods of time, the more it is likely to grow on you.

Keep in mind that you can also bring mindfulness to walking at any speed in your everyday life, and even to running, though of course the pace of your steps and breath will change.

In fact, over time, you can try to bring the same degree of awareness to any everyday activity, experiencing the sense of presence that is available to us at every moment as our lives unfold.

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