26 Jan Walking Meditation
I don’t know about you, but more often than not, when I try to meditate, I find myself drifting off into another world that is other than “here and now.” My mind drifts to what I need to get at the supermarket for dinner or whether or not our dog’s cataract is getting bad enough for an operation. I can usually stay “in the moment” for a minute or so, and then it all falls apart and before I know it, I’m thinking about errands and grocery lists and how I should teach my daughter, Nadia, to French braid her own hair.
Although I have slowly (and I stress slowly) started getting better at meditation over the years, I had made a mindful decision (very yoga of me) to leave expertise in the hands of those who were truly gifted.
Recently, however, while I was in Morocco on a yoga retreat, Erin, our instructor and founder of Eat Pray Move Yoga retreats around the world, guided our group through something I have never heard of before… Walking Meditation.
At first, I must admit, I was skeptical. I had enough trouble sitting still and meditating, let alone walking! What if my mind wandered, and I tripped, and I found myself facedown on the sidewalk! I’ve never heard of anyone having physical injuries from meditation, but I could see, for me, it was a distinct possibility. And then it dawned on me… One of the reason why I love Vinyasa Flow yoga is because, in addition to being great exercise, it is a form of active meditation. When you are required to think about your breath in order to connect each breath with a movement, it is difficult to have your mind wander toward other things. It thus becomes an “active meditation.”
Or as I like to call it- “meditation for the short-attention-span part of the population”(yours truly included).
I now realized that I had been doing a version of active meditation for YEARS while practicing Vinyasa Flow! With this epiphany behind me, it stood to reason that walking meditation would be well within my capabilities. So I gave it shot… And it was. Even after the first try, I found my inner peace, and now, I find myself doing it all the time! The other day, I caught myself practicing walking meditation in a grocery store parking lot on the way to grab a shopping cart.
Here are the basic steps for Walking Meditation:
1. Stand with your feet firmly on the ground.
Really feel the connection you have with the earth. Take a couple of deep breaths and rotate your shoulder blades up, back and then down, so that they are resting comfortably toward the center of your back.
Take a few slow steps while coordinating your breathing with each step. Perhaps your deep inhales last for 3 steps, or maybe 5 steps. The number doesn’t matter – pick it based on how many steps it takes to deeply inhale… matched with the same number of steps for your full exhale. As you walk and breathe, your gaze should be focused softly on the ground a few feet in front of you. Try to walk with a slight smile. (Mindful pleasant mood.)
2. Once you get the hang of it, try visualization.
Try to picture your feet kissing the ground with each step forward. As you lift your back foot up to take another step, picture a lotus flower growing in its place. (To be honest, I don’t do this part. It simply doesn’t work for me, but I DID try.) Instead, I picture my lungs slowly filling up with air with each counted step. (Belly extends.) Then I visualize the air leaving my body while counting steps on a long exhale, my lungs becoming completely empty. (Navel to spine.)
3. Continue to walk this way for at least 10 minutes.
That’s really all there is to it!
As you become more experienced with this type of meditation, you can incorporate this practice into your daily life. Even taking a mere 4 or 5 mindful steps could make a huge difference in your life. So, start walking your way to a more peaceful state of mind.