Walking Meditation: Free your mind with every step
Get up, put your shoes on, start moving – Walking Meditation is a simple practice that can be easily integrated into everyday life. The aim of walking meditation is to become aware of your surroundings while walking and to train mindfulness.
Four good reasons to start with walking meditation
You become more attentive: All day long most of us are busy rushing frantically from one point to the next. In order not to have to deal with the environment, we stick to our smartphones and block out everything with headphones. In walking meditation, you consciously decide to get rid of all distractions and to experience life with all your senses.
You get to know yourself: By concentrating fully on the present situation, you automatically pay more attention to yourself. You experience your physical sensations much more intensively. Since you learn in walking meditation not to evaluate your thoughts, it helps you to deal better with any emotions.
You are more focussed: We are used to doing our daily routine on autopilot and to doing most things completely thoughtlessly. However, this thoughtlessness also affects areas of your life where you need your concentration. Regular walking meditation helps you to become more aware of the here and now and it is easier to return to the present moment when your thoughts start wandering.
You can easily integrate it into your everyday life: Our social life is characterized by the fact that we have to keep running to get from A to B. Even if you use public transport or have your own car, you still have to walk some distance to get to the bus stop or car park.
Walking meditation instructions
Prepare for your walking meditation by
choosing a place: Find a route that you can walk slowly without any obstacles. Obstacles include traffic, other pedestrians, but also hills and uneven surfaces on the path that you might stumble over. You should also be careful not to get in the way of others, so that you can let yourself go during your meditation. Walking indoors is a good way to avoid being distracted from your surroundings.
setting a timer: When you start walking meditation, you should practice for at least 10 minutes a day. Once you have integrated meditation firmly into your daily life, you can gradually increase this time. A timer ensures that you do not constantly look at your watch during the exercise.
arriving in the here and now: Begin your session by breathing consciously for about one minute and focusing your full attention on your body and sensations. Feel the ground under your feet, the wind that blows over your skin and perceive your thoughts and feelings without judging them.
Walking Meditation – step by step
- Start walking. Walk about 10 to 15 steps along the path you have chosen. At the end turn around and walk in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, focus on your breathing and breathe calmly in through your nose and out through your mouth.
- Pay attention to your steps. As an adult, you have been walking almost all your life and therefore forget that a step actually consists of several intermediate steps that you internalized as a child. When walking, pay attention to how you lift your foot, move it forward a little, put it down and shift your weight to the front leg while the heel of your back leg lifts off the ground. Now lift your back foot off the ground, swing it forward and lower it. Feel how the weight of your body shifts to another foot with each step.
- Steer your attention. Pay attention to where your attention is going during meditation and focus on things that you would otherwise take for granted. Be it your breath, the movement of your legs while walking or the sounds in your environment.
- Let your thoughts wander. It is completely normal if you are unable to focus your attention on one object permanently. During meditation, you should only learn to redirect your wandering thoughts again and again and to concentrate on the environment or your sensations.
- End the meditation. Return to the starting point and take your surroundings more intensely. Take time to enjoy the feeling after the meditation and slowly return to the here and now.
Tips for Walking Meditation
Integrate meditation into your everyday life
Consistency is the key. The more you practice, the easier it will be to free your mind from negative thoughts. By integrating walking meditation into your daily life, you will find it easier to build a routine. Link the walking meditation to an already existing routine. For example, you could choose a quiet moment to practice walking meditation in the morning on the way to the bus stop.
The slower you walk, the easier it will be for you to concentrate on the movements of your feet and legs. Pay attention to how your body balances the weight shift and how your feet behave when you turn around to walk in the opposite direction.
Listen to yourself
During walking meditation, close your eyes and pay attention to how you feel. How is your body feeling during meditation? What are your thoughts about and what is your general feeling? Try not to evaluate your insights about yourself. You don’t have to write them down and nobody, but you will know about them. Just perceive them and then return to your practice.
Choose a quiet place
The place for your walking meditation determines whether you can fully engage in the practice or whether you are continuously interrupted. No matter whether you meditate indoors or outdoors, make sure that
- the route for your meditation is between ten and thirty steps long.
- your route is free from any disturbances (cars, passers-by, obstacles, etc.)
Enjoy the Walking Meditation
Avoid forcing yourself to meditate. There will be days when you don’t feel like it and that is fine. As long as you don’t make the exception a habit, it is no problem if you skip a day or two.
It is important that you do not see walking meditation as a compulsion, but as something beautiful that frees your mind and helps you to be present in every moment. Once you do so, you will continue your walking meditation voluntarily.
Walking Meditation in a labyrinth?
Instead of walking a straight path, you can alternatively visit a labyrinth. Symbolically, the labyrinth brings you closer to your inner self.
For a Walking Meditation in a labyrinth, you need to do nothing else than to follow the paths of the labyrinth until you reach the center and then find your way out again. High hedges of greenery prevent you from feeling distracted, and other people will also rarely meet you in such a maze.
Kinhin – Zen Walking Meditation
Kinhin is a special form of walking meditation in which the practitioners walk through a room clockwise and in a certain posture. Before and after the walking meditation a sitting meditation is done – the so-called Zen meditation. The Kinhin meditation is also the slowest of all walking meditations. 100 steps can easily take half an hour.
- Stand upright, keep your back straight and try to stand in a relaxed way at the same time.
- Feel how your weight is distributed on both legs and feel the ground under your feet.
- Look at the ground and put a soft focus on a point that is about 3 meters in front of you.
- Start to breathe in and out deeply and take a small step forward with each complete breath.
- During meditation, alternate your focus between your breathing and your steps.
- If you want to end your meditation (or your timer has expired), stand upright again. If you had your eyes closed during meditation, open them. Take note of yourself, your surroundings and the distance you have covered.
Mindful walking is probably the easiest walking meditation to practice. You can practice it anywhere and anytime. On the way to the supermarket or while waiting for the next bus. Just take a little time to breathe consciously and to notice every step you take. Hide all worries for a moment and be only with yourself and your sensations.
Turn your next walk into a mindful walk
Mindfulness is undoubtedly the key to a happier life in which you can fully enjoy every moment. To practice mindfulness on your next walk, simply use the following trick:
Simply list 3 things you can see, hear, smell, taste and feel, one after the other. If you can’t think of 3 things at the beginning, name as many as you can perceive and try to improve your performance next time.
Mindful walking benefits
Easy to integrate into your life: Each of us takes a few steps each day. So why not make a few mindful steps out of it?
You feel more energetic: unlike sitting meditation, Mindful Walking gets your body moving and energizes it.
You fight stress: Do you also sometimes feel the need to go out into the fresh air and move around in stressful situations? Prevent such situations by integrating walking outdoors into your everyday life. Exercise helps you to relieve stress, restlessness or even anxiety.
What do I do with my arms during walking meditation?
Whatever feels most comfortable for you is allowed. For example, you can fold your hands behind your back or simply let them hang at your side.
How long does a walking meditation take?
Some people feel refreshed and clear after only about 10 minutes, others take over an hour to give themselves a break and free themselves from negative thoughts.
Do I have to walk alone?
As so often in life, walking mediation can be more fun if you practice it with someone else. However, remember that each participant in the meditation chooses his or her own pace. Talking to each other during the meditation is taboo. Instead, you can motivate and encourage each other to meditate together.
In today’s world, most of us are sitting too much and are not doing ourselves or our bodies any favours. So stand up and tie your shoes! After an initial phase of fighting your weaker self, the benefits of walking meditation will encourage you to practice it regularly. In the long run, you will feel more balanced and (mentally) fitter with just 10 minutes of daily training.