For many years I had decided that walking meditation wasn’t for me. I love walking but if I’m walking, I like to be walking TO somewhere and preferably at a very fast pace. I cannot handle walking slowly. I find it almost impossible so perhaps you could say I’m exactly the kind of person who needs to learn to walk mindfully!
Anyway- with not-so-great enthusiasm, I decided to give a walking meditation a go.
Much to my surprise, I really enjoyed it and have to admit I feel a bit silly for putting off trying it.
I found it to be really absorbing as there are so many layers of awareness that you can become mindful of.
I’m not going to share a meditation script because its not very practical whilst walking about (on that note-PLEASE if you’re going to meditate whilst walking be aware of your surroundings and don’t do this near any roads, cliff edges or in a dark alleyway…please..). Instead I’ll give an overview of the process and leave you to explore it!
A Simple Walking Meditation
I like to start my walking meditations by taking a few moments of breathing. Standing with both feet firmly planted on the ground, I like to make sure I’m feeling grounded and connected to my body.
When you’re ready to begin, take a very slow step forwards and try to focus on the sensations in your feet. Taking slow steps, begin to walk and keep your attention on your feet, their connection to the ground. How does it feel as they first touch the ground, then as they flex and perhaps the pressure as you push off from your toes? Spend some time focusing on the feet before moving upwards to the ankles and upwards.
If your attention wanders at any point just bring it back gently to the physical sensations of movement.
You can also alter the speed of your walk and see that the sensations change. You could take your steps in time with your breathing to create a flow of movement. You could also bring your awareness to your gait and to the feeling of different surfaces you are walking on and the surrounding noises, smells and temperatures.
Its a great meditation for days when you’re feeling a bit more distracted as the movement can take the edge off the brain-wandering and prevent the need to fidget.
Walking Meditation for Kids
The walking meditation can be a good one to introduce children to meditation. It doesn’t involve being still for long periods. Its good for their imaginative minds and can help them learn to identify feelings and slow down. It can be easily adapted depending on whether they want to stomp like a dinosaur or imagine that they’re wading through thick custard.
Just make sure they’re in a safe environment and if you have a whole gang like me try to space them out!
Give it a go – see if you like it. Perhaps it’s not the one for you? Maybe it surprises you and you’ll be walking the dog looking like a spaceman like me?…
And I’ll leave you with the wonderful words of Thich Nhat Hanh and possibly my favourite quote:
‘When we walk like we are rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the Earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.’