Walking meditation mindfulness exercise

Mindfulness practice: the power of walking meditation

A very accessible and also very effective form of practicing mindfulness is a walking meditation.
It is a wonderful way to find more peace and balance. You also combine physical exercise and if you do this in a beautiful location, you also stimulate your senses in an extra pleasant way. 
For some people, walking is a more pleasant way to meditate than, for example, a sitting meditation on a cushion. That can sometimes be just a bit too challenging.

What is a walking meditation?

There are different forms of meditative walking.
For example, within the vipassana meditation you have a walking meditation in which you walk very slowly and remain aware of the complete movement of the foot. There are different phases that you practice over a longer period of time, ultimately following the movement with attention: lifting, ascending, advancing, descending, rolling off the foot.
During this walking meditation you are not actively aware of your other senses and the environment. But you name it mentally when you hear, feel, smell or see something, for example, and then go back to the movement of the foot.

In this blog I will mainly discuss walking meditation as a form of practicing mindfulness.

Mindful walking outdoors

You can do meditative walking completely in silence, or you can listen to a guided meditation that takes you through what you can focus your attention on.
In a walking meditation you practice being fully aware of your steps, your breathing and the environment. It is an exercise that helps you to be in the moment, to become aware of what is going on at that moment, to calm your thoughts and stimulate your senses.

How do you walk meditatively?

There is no one way to do a walking meditation.
You determine the pace yourself. However, it is an idea to walk just a little slower than you normally do. But if you feel very tense or have a lot of restlessness, you can first walk more vigorously for a few minutes and then slowly reduce the pace.
If you walk more calmly, you bring more peace to your body and you can also become more aware of other things around you.

Before you go for a walk:

Decide in advance where you would like to walk; a forest, a park, the beach, the heath, along meadows or just in the street nearby.   Choose a place where it is quiet, where you will not be distracted too much and where you feel comfortable.
The place where you go for a walk doesn’t really have to be that big. With meditative walking it is not about how far you walk, or how many steps, but that you practice your awareness.

Mindfulness exercises during your walk

There are several exercises you can focus on during the walk.
Tip: set a timer for a few minutes, for example. If you use your phone, best to put it on silent mode

Focus on your feet

Bring your attention to the feet; feel what the ground feels like (e.g. hard, soft, springy), how your legs move, when your foot hits the ground, how you roll your foot, the weight that comes on your leg, etc.
If you walk barefoot, you can also add that you are aware of how the ground feels (hot, cold, dry, wet, structure).

Focus your attention on your breathing

How is your breathing at the start of the walk? Where do you feel it? And follow the breathing while walking itself. Can you make your breathing calmer and deeper?

Be aware of your body

How does your body feel? Is there pain or tension somewhere? Do you let your shoulders hang relaxed?   Follow the movement of your arms as you walk. Are your jaws relaxed, your face? How does the skin feel? Is it cold, warm, dry, wet.

Observe your thoughts

It is more than normal that you have all kinds of thoughts while walking, that they come and go. As soon as you notice your thoughts wandering, be aware of what these thoughts are and don’t judge your thoughts. Then let go of the thoughts and return your attention to your feet or your breathing.

Open Your Senses

Smelling: What can you smell?   You can label them as pleasant or unpleasant. When we smell something, it often triggers memories or other thoughts. Observe it and then let it go.

Hearing: What do you hear far away and near? Here too you can distinguish them as pleasant and unpleasant. Without going into it further and without judging.

Seeing: What does your surroundings look like? What details do you see?   You may see things that you would otherwise have overlooked, because you now take the time and peace to do so.

Tasting: You can also taste things while walking: Maybe you come across berries that you are going to eat or you bring something to eat or drink yourself. Take the time to taste how it feels in your mouth.

Feeling: Besides feeling the feet on the ground, there are more things you can feel; leaves, the wind, the sun or rain. What are you feeling?

Just pause

During your walk you can find a spot to stand in silence for a few minutes. 
You can also alternately focus your attention on your feet, breathing, your entire body, your thoughts and senses.

What are the benefits of a walking meditation?

Meditation has many benefits for your body and mind. Whether this is a sitting or walking form.
Mindful walking can have a positive effect straight away, but especially for the long term.

Reduces stress:
By focusing on the present moment, your breathing, your body and your thoughts, you become more aware of what is going on and you can also let things go in a targeted manner. This helps reduce stress and anxiety.

Improves your physical health: Even though a walking meditation may not be long or high intensity, you are still physically active and walking improves your cardiovascular health, strengthens your muscles and helps with weight management.

Improves mental clarity: Practicing mindfulness helps you increase your concentration and focus and think more clearly.

Increases your creativity: With meditative activities you give your mind peace and space to think freely without distractions. Creative ideas and solutions often come to mind.

Connects you to nature: Walking outdoors can make you feel more connected to nature. Nature in itself can have a calming effect on you.

Mindfulness exercise in walking at work:

Even when you are indoors, at home or at work, you can include very short walking meditations. Just like mindful drinking, which you can practice several times a day, you can use a certain distance you walk in a day as a moment to practice mindfulness and consciously walk

Consider, for example, the distance between your workplace and the tea/coffee maker or the toilet.   Walk just a little slower than you normally would, without your phone, without thinking about what you have done before or what you want to do next.

During this (often) short walk you also make contact with your feet again, be aware of your body, feel whether you are holding anything unnecessarily tense and relax, be aware of your breathing and adjust it if you notice that you are shallow or if you have high breathing. You can also consciously open your senses and notice what is going on in your surroundings.

You can practice walking meditations every day, wherever you are, at any time.

It’s a simple yet powerful way to reduce stress, improve your physical and mental health, and feel more connected to yourself and the world around you.

My free online mindfulness training also includes a walking mediation that you can listen to during your walk.
During retreats that I regularly lead, I often use a guided walking meditation, whether or not combined with coaching

5-part training to build in short moments for yourself. 
Reduce stress, enjoy more, live more consciously and increase your creativity through these simple and effective exercises.
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Hi, my name is Jolinda, and I work as a holistic health practitioner.  I provide yoga and meditation classes and massage and Reiki treatments,  mindfulness training and happiness coaching,. 
With my blogs I hope to inspire you to make positive changes into your life. For more ideas and tips check out my page Jolindas inspiration.  Free trainings and videos you can find at free downloads and videos
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