THE MEDITATION TOOL
Going for a walk in itself can be quite meditative, but when we tune into where the mind is focused, it’s easy to see the habitual distractions. Many times when we walk, we are paying attention to thoughts about where we came from, where we’re going, or what’s for dinner tonight. Our minds are typically not focused on walking or what is going on around us while we’re walking.
Walking meditation is a great starting point for becoming more attuned to the present. By walking mindfully, we can direct our awareness to the actions of stepping, or what we are observing right now. Below are our recommendations for walking meditation. If your mobility limits you from walking, that’s okay – however you get around, use this time to observe the sensations, sights, and sounds in and around you. Eventually, you may notice the awareness from this exercise trickle into your everyday walking experience and beyond.
MINDfUL WALKING TIPS
Keep your eyes open and notice the things you see. What is stationary? What is moving? Notice colors. Notice textures.
What do you hear? It might be the sounds of nature or a busy city street. Become aware of it all, just as it is, without judging it or applying meaning to what you hear.
Notice any scents you pick up on. Again, these might seem pleasant or unpleasant at first, but try to observe them without labels. Notice when a smell starts to drift away or change.
Become aware of the changing weight, sensations, and speeds from one leg to another. Focus your attention at first on the left heel when it makes contact with the ground, and how it transfers to the ball of the left foot. Notice this with the right foot, too. What is the pause like between steps?
How does the rest of your body move while you walk? Notice the hips, the spine, and the shoulders. What does the body feel like today as a whole? Try not to judge what you find.
When you notice the mind wander away from this exercise, slow your pace and gently bring the attention back to the patterns of the feet.