Walking meditation is a wonderful means of bringing meditation into your day. Generally we walk often during the day, even if it’s only to take a shower of make a freshly brewed coffee. By bringing awareness to these walking sessions, we are able to bring the meditation benefits from our seated meditation into the rest of our day. Ritual being what it is suggests that it is great to start by practicing walking meditation during a designated time at a designated place, just as you would do for your regular seated meditations.
This ensures that you become comfortable with the idea of walking with your attention focused internally focused rather than externally. Once you learn to do this in a calm and relaxed manner, and you feel safe walking on a busy street with the mind focused inward, you may choose to transform all your walking into meditation sessions. The inner focus allows you to be the witness in your life. It brings a great sense of inner peace. How to meditate on your feet:
10 minutes daily for at least a week. Evidence suggests that mindfulness increases the more you practice it.
Look around your locale for a space, a park of maybe a lane that allows you to walk back and forth with a gentle purpose. Aim for a place that is peaceful, and preferably quiet where you won’t be disturbed or if you are lucky even seen (since a slow, formal walking meditation can look odd to people who are unfamiliar with it). You can practice walking meditation either indoors however it is preferable to be outside being nurtured by nature. Remember that there is no destination, just a place to practice a very intentional form of walking where you’re mostly retracing your steps.
Walk 10-15 steps wherever you have chosen, and then pause and received your breath from the universe, really feel the element of air for as long as you like. When you’re ready, turn and walk back in the opposite direction, where you can pause and breathe again. Then, when you’re ready, turn once more and continue with the walk. Can may choose a circular pathway (this is my personal favourite!).
Walking meditation involves very deliberating thinking about and doing a series of actions that you normally do automatically. Breaking these steps down in your mind may feel awkward, even ridiculous. But you should try to notice at least these four basic components of each step:
a) the lifting of one foot;
b) the moving of the foot a bit forward of where you’re standing;
c) the placing of the foot on the floor, heal first;
d) the shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as the back heel lifts, while the toes of that foot remain touching the floor or the ground.
Then the cycle continues, as you:
a) lift your back foot totally off the ground;
b) observe the back foot as it swings forward and lowers;
c) observe the back foot as it makes contact with the ground, heel first;
d) feel the weight shift onto that foot as the body moves forward.
You can walk at any speed, however, this is a meditation, not a running race… walking meditation is slow and involves taking small steps. Most important is that it feels natural, not exaggerated or hurried.
You can clasp your hands behind your back or in front of you, or you can just let them hang at your side—whatever feels most comfortable and natural.
As you walk, try to focus your attention on your intention for example on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted, such as your breath coming in and out of your body; the movement of your feet and legs, or their contact with the ground or floor; your head balanced on your neck and shoulders; sounds nearby or those caused by the movement of your body; or whatever your eyes take in as they focus on the world in front of you.
No matter how much you try to fix your attention on any of these sensations, your mind will inevitably wander. That’s OK—it’s perfectly natural. When you notice your mind wandering, simply try again to focus it one of those sensations. Do not get annoyed with yourself.
For many people, slow, formal walking meditation takes some getting used too. However the more you practice, even for short periods of time, the more it is likely to enjoy it and begin to look forward to it. Keep in mind that you can also bring mindfulness to walking at any speed in your everyday life, and even to running, though of course, the pace of your steps and breath will change. In fact, over time, you can try to bring the same degree of awareness to any everyday activity, experiencing the sense of presence that is available to us at every moment as our lives unfold.