Walking Meditation (free!)
When we hear the word ‘meditation’, the first image to come to mind is usually that of a sage sitting cross-legged on the floor in his loincloth, with the back of his hands resting on his knees and thumbs gently touching his index fingers. Whilst this is one posture that might be used in meditation, there are many other acceptable postures and variations on practicing meditation. A walking meditation is one such variation.
Walking meditation can be a great alternative to seated meditation. It can be particularly helpful if you experience any of the following:
- Poor posture/back pain when seated for long periods
- Difficulty sitting still (prone to fidgeting)
- Poor circulation
- You just want to try something different to your usual practice
- You would like to improve your balance
To engage in walking meditation you will require a cleared space of approximately 2 to 3 metres in length, and wide enough so as to be able to walk comfortably. Choose somewhere you will be able to pace without the risk of stumbling over any physical obstacles. If you are able to do this activity outside on the grass that would be even better.
Keep your spine erect, your chin tipped slightly downwards towards your chest, and your hands resting at your abdomen. As you walk your attention is kept (as much as possible) with the sensations in the feet, rather than on thoughts or looking at things around you. When you notice you have become distracted gently draw your attention back to your breath and the sensations of your feet touching the earth. As you reach the end of your walking area, notice your intention arise to turn, and notice the sensations in your feet as you follow through on this intention.
Step 1 (5-10 minutes):
Begin to walk along your chosen strip of grass. As you walk, notice the sensations in your feet. You may even silently begin to say ‘left’ and ‘right’ as each foot respectively touches the ground.
Step 2 (10 minutes):
Slowing down your pace, and continuing to notice the sensations in your feet, silently notice yourself ‘lifting’ and ‘placing’ each foot upon the earth.
Step 3 (10 minutes):
Slowing your pace further, and continuing to notice the sensations in your feet, silently notice yourself ‘lifting’, ‘pulling’ and ‘placing’ each foot upon the earth.
Use a timer with a soft sound to keep track of your time in each section of the meditation. This will allow you to more fully engage with the meditation rather than worrying about how long you have spent in each step.
If you find it difficult to let go of thoughts that arise, it may be helpful to sit and write them down before starting your meditation.
When walking outside, avoid unpleasant surprises by checking for any ant nests or prickles prior to starting.
Ensure you are wearing appropriate clothing/keep weather in mind when choosing your spot – being outside in direct sun may be lovely for the first few minutes, but after almost half an hour you might feel differently about it.
Above all, be kind to yourself. For the majority a firm yet gentle & self-compassionate drawing of the attention back to the task at hand will be far more effective in maintaining your meditation practice than any form of put-down, bullying or self-coercion.