The Art Of “Walking Meditation”

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Why do we walk? The usual answer is walking is good for health, weight loss and helps us stay fit. Nowadays we even make sure that we walk a minimum of steps (measured by the pedometer) and post it on social media to consider it a successful walk.  Is that what walking means to us? Granted there is nothing wrong with a goal oriented approach to exercising. It helps us stay on track with the exercise regimen and give us a sense of accomplishment when we achieve our goals, not to mention getting a few kudos and likes from our friends adds motivation and fun to the walking.

When we come to think of it, walking is a pretty common activity. Through many eons, humans have walked the land for hunting, agriculture, travel, etc. Walking was one of the main modes of travel. There is nothing jazzy about it. Most likely back in the day, doctors may not even have dreamed of recommending “walking” as a health activity. It is only in the 19th and 20th century, with the introduction of automobiles, that walking has become a luxury.  Now we see wellness programs motivating people to go for a walk.  In this day and age, we take pride in creating the time for “walking” – something that is commonsensical, natural and intrinsic to our very being.

Be that as it may, walking when done alone can be a meditative experience. Most of us may not be aware of it.  Have you noticed that when you walk alone you are more calm, collected and reflective? That is because being outside in nature by ourselves lulls us into a more reflective or meditative state. When we bring this state in our conscious experience, it can become “walking meditation”.

So how to walk and meditate? It is best to walk when the outside temperatures are just right. Remember to put aside your phone and your music.

1) Step outside into the fresh air and take a few deep breaths.  As you inhale and exhale look forward to your walk and your alone time with the elements of nature.  Now start walking consciously, taking slow steps, and tune into the rhythm of your steps. This is a slow walk. So getting exercise is not the goal.

2) Become aware of the tingling of the breeze on your body and enjoy the sensation of this tingle.

3) Observe everything along the path – the colorful trees, plant, the green grass, stones, pavements etc.

4) If something looks enticing, then stop to touch it and see how it feels.

5) Hear the birds, insects in all their cacophonic glory and smell the subtle fragrance of the surrounding air.

All of the above create a riot on your senses. Now notice how you are feeling within. Most likely you will find that your thoughts have receded and suddenly your entire being has come alive in response to the sounds, smell and beauty of nature.  Now you are in a meditative state. Continue to do this throughout your walk. If you lose attention, then have the anchor of your breath, or the rhythm of your heartbeat to bring you back to the purpose of this walk.

At first it might seem boring to walk in this manner. But the more you tune into yourself and with nature the more enjoyable it becomes.  You will also find that each time the quality of the walk will be different as nature’s dynamism will be on full display – like the flowers that suddenly bloomed which were not there the previous time. Just noticing these small changes can be very refreshing and calming.

Next you take a walk think of making it a meditative walk!.

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