Positive Effects of Mindful Walking Meditation and How To Succeed with the Practice
Your everyday life is filled with both pleasant and stressful events. Dedicated mindfulness practice can help you cope with any overwhelming situation. All it takes is choosing the direction you want to walk in. Many underestimate the power of walking meditation. However, when synced with seated meditation practice, this routine will have a positive effect on your mental health (https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health) as well as your physical health.
So, where do you start?
The truth is that mindful walking meditation is a lot easier to implement into your daily routine than any other practice. Whether it is a city street, a park, or your hallway, you can do it anytime and anywhere. Simply focus on your feet and let the awareness fill you. In case you need some help learning how to practice mindful walking meditation, today we will discuss all the critical points that concern meditative walking and how to succeed with the practice in no time.
Table of Contents
Walking meditation: a brief definition
When you start to consider practicing mindfulness, you may be slightly overwhelmed with the variety of available mindfulness practices. However, walking meditation stands out from the rest due to a plethora of factors. The core of this practice lies in combining your physical experience with the unique state of mindfulness meditation.
Whether it is an early morning walk, a simple back-and-forth room pacing, or a casual after-lunch stroll, you should aim to focus on your physical sensations. You will simply acknowledge how you feel with each step. Due to the shifted meditation focus, if we compare seated meditation to a walking practice, your walk will have to be much slower, so you have enough time to pay attention to every breath you take.
Another critical difference between walking meditation and sitting meditation is that you must keep your eyes open. In addition, your body’s movements will ensure closer interaction with the outside world, a connection that will tie you closely to the way you feel in the present moment. All these features combined make walking meditation a lot simpler to master than any other meditation practice (https://theraheal.io/meditation/goals-of-meditation).
Primary benefits of walking meditation
Each everyday activity will have a distinct effect on your life. However, walking meditation has proved to be equally beneficial for both your mental and physical well-being. To support the point, let’s discuss the main benefits of walking meditation. They are the following:
1. Enhanced awareness
It’s been mentioned that mindful walking, when done correctly, will anchor you to the present moment. As you keep cultivating mindfulness, you will pay attention to what is happening inside you while your body moves and your mind wanders. Such a session will result in bringing awareness of your physical surroundings and mental state, along with improved concentration.
2. Improved sleep quality
Your daily life is filled with all sorts of stress, anxiety, and depressive thoughts and feelings. Walking meditation serves as an alternative medicine to help you battle sleep issues such as insomnia. Walking as a physical activity can have a positive effect on blood pressure. The better your blood flow is, the better you will feel. Top that with an effective meditative state, and you can decrease your heart rate by leaving stressors behind. Both components combined result in melatonin production, aka sleep hormone, that ensures you sleep like a baby, no matter the daily stress you have been under.
3. Mental clarity
Aside from all the physical benefits and heightened bodily sensations, mindful walking positively affects mental clarity. Your life may be filled with all sorts of challenges and fighting through those on a daily basis keeps you away from paying attention to how you feel in the moment. When you adopt a regular meditation practice, you will learn how to shield yourself from all negative thoughts and distractions. Thus, you will have more time to focus on your personal, mental, and spiritual requirements.
4. Improved mind-body connection
As you practice walking meditation, your physical sensations become of utmost importance. However, what matters even more is how you perceive all the changes your body undergoes in the process. The practice helps you embrace the feelings of your feet touching the ground, arms moving as they swing, and body alignment that adjusts to your pace.
How do you master walking mindfulness techniques?
Now, when you know all the benefits of walking meditation, you may wonder where to start. There are a few steps you can take to perform mindful walking with ease:
1. Start with the location
The success of your walking meditation session depends on a few factors, and the location is one of the most critical. If there isn’t enough space to dedicate to your meditation practice, you may fail sooner than you realize. One of the vital points to understand is that the practice isn’t about the physical destination. That is why you don’t necessarily have to go outside. You can also have a successful meditation session indoors as long as the pacing lane at your disposal covers 10–25 paces. Walk back and forth, drawing your attention to how your feet feel rather than where you are headed. Also, a relatively quiet space with as few distractions as possible may come of use too. Some people choose to walk in the park or on the street but keep in mind that your slower pace may attract some curious glances. You don’t have to change the location if you are okay with them. However, should you find people staring at you more distracting than you can cope with, it is best to consider another location.
2. Mind your steps
As opposed to regular walking, meditation requires a fair share of concentration on what you are doing. Industry experts suggest that you take no more than 15 steps in the direction you choose, pause, take a breath or two, and resume the pace. Precise repetition is key.
3. Evaluate the components of every step
We can’t stress enough how deliberate your thinking process should be while taking on walking meditation. On the one hand, these are automatic actions that you take daily, yet, to achieve the level of mindfulness you want, you have to consider every detail. It may feel a little awkward to break your steps into different components, but it is vital. To point you in the right direction, we will point out some basic components of every step:
- Lifting one foot
- Moving the foot toward where you are standing
- Putting the foot down, heel first
- Feeling the weight transition to the foot that stands in front while the back heel is raised in the air with the toes attached to the ground.
4. Focus on your speed
When you walk freely, you don’t usually concentrate on the pace. With walking meditation, things are different. While there isn’t a pre-set speed or pace you need to adapt to, you should take smaller steps and generally move a little slower so that you can evaluate the process thoroughly. At the same time, it is critical that you don’t exaggerate the pace. You should walk as normally as possible, just a bit slower and a tad more aware of your body.
5. Consider your hands and arms
Since your feet are the main focus of attention, you may worry about what to do with your hands. However, there is no precise position your hands need to be in. You can take your hands behind your back or leave them hanging at your side—whichever position feels more natural to you is the best one to assume.
6. Direct your attention
As you start to walk mindfully, you will have to shift your focus to those sensations that people usually take for granted. What does it mean? It means that you will have to carry on a systematic review of how you inhale and exhale, how your feet and legs move, and how your head is balanced on your neck and shoulders. The more you pay attention to those feelings, the easier it will be to simply notice how you walk with your back in a straight line, the sounds your body makes while moving, and much more.
7. Battle mind shifts
While you put some time and effort into mastering how to point your focus in the chosen direction during your walking meditation session, your mind will inevitably wander at one moment or another. Instead of feeling guilty about that, you should learn how to refocus quickly. All you have to do is concentrate on your body’s sensations once more and carry on.
8. Make it a routine
Mindfulness walking can become an inseparable part of your life. Some sources claim that it takes around four weeks to form a habit. To do this, start slowly and practice walking meditation for short periods, increasing the intervals over time. What matters is consistency. Once you reap the first benefits of the session, you will crave more, and that is how you become a regular practitioner.
Walking meditation is one of the simplest mindfulness practices and is easy to introduce into the hectic lifestyle of any modern person. Considering the immense positive effects on your mental and physical health that this practice offers, you may want to start meditating today. All you need to do is get up, focus, and begin your mindfulness journey!
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Author: Lia Medvedeva
Lia Medvedeva is a meditation coach at Theraheal.io. She is also an expert in meditation practices, well-being, personal growth, and self-motivation. Lia uses extra professional meditation guidelines for helping people heal and find inner peace.