Walking meditation, it almost sounds like a contradiction
Most people associate meditation with being still and quiet, often with the help of a guide, especially for those who are at a beginner level. So then, what is walking meditation and how can we apply it to enhance our lives?
Simply put, walking meditation is an active practice of your awareness. The focus of your awareness can be either internal or external. For example, if you decide to go on a nice morning walk, an external focus would be paying attention to elements around you. How does the air feel? What are the trees like at this time of year? What animals do you see? Are you near water? What is the mood of the water for the day? If you are working more internally, focusing on breath work is an excellent way to stay in tune with your body. Other things you can focus on internally is how the air feels as you breathe in - is it crisp or warm due to the current climate? Do you smell anything? How does it feel to connect each step to the ground, how connected to the earth do you feel? Breath work and grounding are central focus tools in meditation.
How does walking meditation benefit us?
Walking, as most of us know, is great for your health. There are so many benefits to the act of walking. Being outdoors is also very beneficial - and for us Idahoans, it's a true gift to appreciate the space we have here and the cleanliness, as well as all the beautiful creeks, paths, rivers, lakes, and trees in our area. Not to say that I haven't tried walking meditation somewhere more dense. I used to walk around Silicon Valley all the time as well. While there is a pulse to the Bay that belongs solely to the energy and vibe of that densely populated area, I always had such wonderful experiences exploring the parks, beaches, and hiking paths I found.
Besides physical benefits, allowing your brain to spend some time connecting to your environment and detaching from other mental stressors creates a space inside yourself to refresh and refocus.
Often we get stuck in our own thoughts.
We stew on a problem for days, overthink our decisions, plan for days, weeks, years ahead...all the time missing out on the very moment in which we are living in. For me, if I spend at least 20 minutes a day in meditative state, even if not walking but just somewhere surrounded by nature, I often find clarity to situations that trouble me a lot quicker. Allowing myself to take time to focus on the here and now throughout the day allows me to better function overall. I am a heavy thinker, so this type of rest period for my brain helps alleviate the stresses I often put on myself. Add in walking, and the benefits of appreciating the natural world around me and the one point of space I occupy at any given moment, step-by-step, adds a healthy layer of perspective and gratitude each day.
Interested in learning more about walking meditation or meditation as a whole?
Check out some of the materials we have available through our library catalog! Do you practice walking meditation already? What are some of the benefits you've experienced? What types of walking meditation have you tried? Share in the comments! If you need any help finding more materials on this subject, our library staff is available to assist!