Walking meditations 101 peace is every step
Peace is every step with walking meditations not only allows you to become more aware, but they also ease stressful feelings.
Walking meditations are a wonderful opportunity to go on a journey with, and into, yourself, using the rhythm of your footsteps and breath to become more fully embodied with the awareness of peace is every step.
We’re usually so preoccupied with getting to our destination that we often miss out on the beauty of the journey and the company of the one friend we will always have – ourselves.
Peace is every step with Walking meditation
The wind rustling in the trees, the shape of a cloud, a spontaneous smile from a passer-by… all these moments are lost as we rush from place to place, rarely attending to where we are right now.
Use the walking meditation to calm and collect yourself and to live more wakefully in your body. The past has truly gone, and if we always look to the future, we will never find peace is every step or happiness in the present.
“Walking bare foot will give you the most immediate sense of connection with the ground”
Use them as a stand-alone practice to develop your sensitivity and presence, and when you’re feeling stressed
When you first start to practice walking meditations, you might like to find a secluded area, maybe in your garden, so you don’t feel self-conscious, or even in your home.
Set aside 15-20 minutes and, as with the other meditations in this article, take a moment to center yourself before you begin, breathing into your lower belly and allowing your mind to quieten. Then, resting your gaze on the ground a few feet in front of you, walk at a slow and steady pace.
Once you’ve begun to build up some experiential understanding of what it means to walk mindfully, you might like to experiment with different paces – walking in extreme slow motion and immersing yourself in every minute sensation in your body,
perhaps, or speeding up your pace and noticing if you can rest in mindfulness as you walk a little faster. If your mind starts to wander – and it will! – gently bring your attention back to your footsteps and your breath.
That is for now…
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Find your feet in walking meditation
This Buddhist walking meditation from the Theravadā tradition is a beautiful way to come into deeper contact with your body.
It’s wonderfully calming and grounding and is a really useful introduction to using movement to teach you to attune to the present moment.
1- Find a clear stretch of ground where you can walk in a straight line for 10 to 20 paces.
- Walking barefoot will give you the most immediate sense of connection with the ground, but if that’s not possible, a pair of light shoes with a flexible sole or ‘barefoot’ shoes will also work.
2-Begin by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart and become aware of the earth beneath you.
- Feel your legs becoming heavy and solid as you allow any excess tension in your body to sink downwards.
- Some people like to walk with their hands clasped behind their back as it helps to ‘anchor’ the hands, creating less distraction than letting the arms swing back and forth with each step.
- Experiment and find out what works best or you, noticing the different effects of different positions.
3-When you’re ready to start walking, gently shift your weight onto one leg and begin to raise the heel of your opposite foot.
- Slowly peel it away from the ground, from heel to toe, until you are momentarily balancing on one leg.
4-Take a comfortable step forward, feeling your heel touch the ground first,
- then consciously releasing the rest of your foot onto the earth, first the mid-foot, then the ball, and finally the toes.
- Notice how, as you travel forwards, your front leg ‘fills up’ with weight as your back leg ‘empties’ and you peel your heel away from the floor once more.
5- Be aware of all the sensations you are experiencing, the transfer of weight from one leg to the other,
- the movement of your hips swaying from side to side, the tensing and releasing of the muscles in your legs and buttocks.
- Simply observe these feelings as they arise and subside. And remember to breathe! It’s easy to give so much attention to the process of slow walking or the sensations you’re feeling that you hold your breath.
6-When you come to the end of your 10-20 paces, bring your back foot forward to meet your front foot and pause for a moment,
- experiencing the sense of stillness now surrounding you. Then, very gradually, turn around, re-centre yourself, and walk back in the other direction.
Stay present with walking meditation
While you’re walking in walking meditation, it’s likely that many thoughts and, possibly, emotions will come forward. Be kind to yourself as you turn your attention back to walking and your breath.
Naming what your mind is doing can be a helpful tool, so each time you notice you have become distracted, say to yourself ‘planning’, ‘thinking’ or ‘daydreaming’, etc.
You can also ‘label’ what you are doing, as a way of staying focused. So, for example, you could say, ‘stepping’, for each step that you take, or ‘left’ and ‘right’ to correspond with the foot that you’re using.
Walking meditation is first and foremost a practice to bring body and mind together peacefully.
These two techniques of walking meditations are best used when you walk very slowly, otherwise, they could become like a marching song!
If you prefer to walk at a normal or near-normal pace, you could try counting your steps.
In this practice, you take a step and say, ‘one’. On your next two steps, you repeat the words ‘one’, two, and then, on the next three steps, you say, ‘one, two, three’, and so on.
Repeat this pattern all the way to 10, and then start again from one. You could also inwardly repeat the loving-kindness meditation as you walk.
The most important thing with all walking meditations is that you bring a sensitive, respectful attitude to your practice.
As Vietnamese monk, Thich Nhat Hahn says: ‘Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet’.
On the go mindful walking meditation
Thich Nhat Hahn suggests using this beautiful gatha, or short verse, to help you stay close to yourself as you walk. This is a practice you can use as you walk about in everyday life.
Take two or three steps for each in-breath and the same for each out-breath.
- Breathing in- ‘I have arrived’
- breathing out- ‘I am home.’
- Breathing in- ‘In the here’
- breathing out- ‘In the now’.
- Breathing in- ‘I am solid’
- breathing out- ‘I am free’.
- Breathing in- ‘In the ultimate’
- breathing out- ‘I dwell’.
After practicing for half an hour or an hour, you will find that your breath, your steps, your counting, and your half-smile all blend together in a marvelous balance of mindfulness.
Each step grounds us in the solidity of the earth. With each step, we fully arrive in the present moment.
11 amazing books definitely worth a read-
- Acceptance- and Mindfulness-Based Approaches to Anxiety: amazon
- Mindfulness: An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World- amazon
- Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening- amazon
- Meditation for the Love of It: Enjoying Your Own Deepest Experience– amazon
- 30-Minute Anxiety Meditation- amazon
- Chakra Healing: A Beginner’s Guide to Self-Healing Techniques that Balance the Chakras- amazon
- The Daily Stoic: 366 Meditations on Wisdom, Perseverance, and the Art of Living-amazon
- Meditation: 4 Books in 1-Chakra and Reiki Healing for Beginners,-amazon
- Practical Meditation for Beginners: 10 Days to a Happier, Calmer You-amazon
- Mindfulness Therapy Games: Social Skills Game That Teaches Mindfulness for Kids,-amazon
- Little Book of Mindfulness: 10 minutes a day to less stress, more peace- amazon
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