As we move into spring and find the urge to get outdoors, walking meditation can be a useful practice to bring mindfulness into your day. Find a place that you can walk undisturbed, inside or outside. The woods or a field is a great place to practice this form of meditation, but a room where you can walk in a circle or a hallway that you can walk up and down works perfectly well. Walking mindfully can be for just a few steps or for several minutes. If you are new to walking meditation, start with a realistic goal of just a few minutes and work your way up over time to a longer stretch of meditation. If it is possible, take off your shoes so that you can feel the floor or the earth below you. You may need to wait a few months until this is possible in Vermont.
Try timing your steps with your breath. Inhale as you step with the right foot, exhale as you step with the left. If your natural breathing is slower you may take 2-3 steps per breath. Find a rhythm that feels comfortable. Some people like to use a gatha or mantra that they say in their head with each step. Some of our favorites are “I have arrived, I am home ” or “nowhere to go, nothing to do” Once you are finished your walk, pause for a moment in mountain pose and observe the effects.
Start in mountain pose. Feel the contact points between your feet and the ground and tune into your breath. Begin to walk slowly either in a circle or a straight line depending on your space. Walk in your normal fashion, but slowly. Resist the temptation to change your gait. Observe the sensation of the heel, then the foot and toes making contact with the floor. Observe the natural roll of the foot. If your mind wanders away draw it back to the sensations of your feet making contact with the ground, then leaving the ground. Keep your toes and feet relaxed. Your walking should be enjoyable.
If you would like to learn more about walking meditation, come to our free Sunday night Mindfulness Meditation group 6:30-8:30 pm which uses seated and walking meditation practices. We love the book/CD called Walking Meditation by Nguyen Anh-Huong & Thich Nhat Hanh.