Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Walking Mediation for Relaxation

Going for a walk can be very relaxing.  It can also be a form of moving meditation, just like tai chi or qigong, in which you hold the mind in the present moment.

In our everyday life we may walk too fast as we hurry from place to place to complete the errands and tasks of our day.  But walking mindfully is very different.  When you walk mindfully, you are aware of your walking.  To be aware of your walking, you must be fully present.  So, trying various walking meditation exercises to strengthen your mindfulness is key.  Here are some ideas: 

First, you can synchronize your steps with the inhalation and the exhalation, and therefore place your attention on no other task.  For instance, you might inhale for 3 or four slow steps, and then exhale for three or four steps, and repeat.

Another idea is to place all of your focus on the bottom of your feet.  Notice as the heel touches the ground, then how it rolls from back to front, bending at the toes, and finally pulls off the ground.  Then follow the attention to the other foot to do the same thing, and so on.

You might also direct your attention to the present by focusing on the senses as you walk.  In other words, as you stroll along, notice what you hear, see, smell, taste in the air, and feel on your skin.  Perhaps you will notice the sound of many birds that you hadn’t noticed before, or maybe you will realize the colors around you are brilliant due to a rising or setting sun.

When you feel ready, here is an idea that might take some practice.  Fill a medium sized bowl or cup with water to the brim, and carry it with you as you walk (this may take both hands).  Think of the water as the precious substance of life for which you don’t want to spill.  As you walk, focus your attention on the bowl or cup of water, and try not to spill a drop.  This will also require that you—at the same time—watch your step, go slow, and move mindfully, all of which leads you to stay very present and attentive to your walking.

All of these exercises simply help you learn to clear your mind of unnecessary clutter, which in turn, helps you to relax and refrain from worry.

Thanks to Hartwig HKD for the great photo Zen Walk