Walking Meditation can be a great way to calm the body and mind, increase our focus and allow the universe to penetrate our consciousness. It can be a solid alternative for those who find sitting still hard or who find themselves with little time alone. It makes a super alternative if you are seeking a change from the normal meditation you undertake.
Just what is walking meditation? I like to break it down into two slightly different types – the first is taking a walk with the explicit goal of meditation. We are not going anywhere in particular and there is no endpoint, other than arriving home at some stage. The second type is when we are naturally walking from A to B during our day. This may be to a meeting, our place of work, a friend’s house or a social outlet. During these walks we can engage in meditation – but we are conscious that we have a fixed time or distance in which to meditate. The meditation on these walks naturally comes to an end when we reach our destination.
The simplest form or walking meditation is when we walk but are mindful of what is occurring around us. Instead of concerning ourselves with our day to day problems, we instead focus on all the sights, sounds, smells and sensations that take place during our walk. The couple arguing in the distance, the birds chirping above us, trees swaying in the breeze, the feel of the earth underneath, the sensations we experience as we walk past the cafes, over the bridge or beneath the sun. The smell of fresh baked bread, the stench of low tide from the city river, the light drop of rain on our skin, the click of our hip bone or the slight ache in our calves. By paying attention to all these things we attune ourselves to the world around us and pick up on items that might otherwise have escaped us.
Allowing our senses to attune to the world around us is a superb way to disconnect from the flow of ‘busy’ energy that constantly bombards us throughout the day. It gives us a breathing space from our problems, pressures and worries and allows the mind a release from the negativity that normally surrounds it.
Walking meditation can also take the form of an explicit topic or goal. Prior to setting out our walk, we may have a subject in mind we wish to meditate on. That could be a tarot card, symbol, god, a particular topic, sphere on the tree of life or a shamanic journey. We may be in search of an omen. When we wish to meditate deeply on a topic, it may be wise to find a quieter route to walk rather than one that brings us into contact with a lot of familiar people – we will invariably be interrupted with “Hello Spiorad” or “Great day isn’t it?!”
Conversely, it can be fun attempting to find an omen or oracle as we follow a route along a busy or familiar street – the omen could come in the conversation with someone or be picked up in a passing eavesdrop.
On a cynical level, earphones are a great way of avoiding conversation with people. They need not necessarily be playing music or even a a guided meditation, but the very presence of them tends to lead people to acknowledge us with a passing nod rather than a full blown conversation.
When engaging in a walking meditation it is wise to pause first prior to beginning and state the goal or purpose of the journey. Then set out at a steady pace, maintaining rhythm with each step. It will be natural to have our thoughts distracted as we walk – we will be watching out for trip hazards and traffic but we should ensure our thoughts are dragged back to the topic of the mediation as soon as possible.
A simple walking mediation to undertake is to start with focusing our our feet and how they feel when walking. Shift your focus up along your body as your walk progresses – calves, knees, thighs, hips, stomach, chest and heart, neck, face, head and finally, the mind or spirit if you wish. Walking is so natural to us there is no reason we cannot use it to meditate.