Erkende Yogatherapeut

Walking meditation

Walking meditation is such a treat. I recall when I first heard about it, I was wondering what it was all about: meditation should be done in a seated position in stillness I thought…? How could you walk and meditate at the same time?  

But then I realized that you can actually perfectly meditate while moving. In very simple terms meditation is channeling your mind towards a purposeful, relaxed focus. This relaxed focus can be your breath, the space around you, your physical sensations, the state of your mind and observing how your thoughts drift by, or it can also be a visualization of some sort. Sitting still for long (particularly in a crossed legged or lotus pose) is anyway not healthy at all for anyone. Moving while meditating is perfectly fine, and it is actually what yoga on the mat (i.e. hatha yoga and any other form of physical yoga, such as vinyasa, ashtanga, yin, etc.) is also about. Yoga is a type of meditation, while you do the yoga poses and breathing exercises you shed the flashlight of your attention on your body, your sensations in the different body parts, your balance, your gaze… A true union between body and mind in a way which is genuinely easier than silent meditation in a sitting position. When you invite your body to take part in the meditation, it just becomes much easier because the mind has something more tangible to focus on. 

The concept of walking meditation is really simple: as you walk – ideally somewhere in nature, in a peaceful setting, allow yourself to focus on the sounds around you for a couple of minutes, then if you wish, you can rotate focus to the smells and texture of the air you breathe in, the temperature, e.g. feeling the warmth of the sun on your back, the breeze on your skin, then you can focus on what you see around you, and you can also move your attention inward to how you roll every step you make, and how you make contact with the earth as you do so. You can choose to stay with a certain focus for a longer time if you want, or you can rotate every few minutes. Initially it’s good to just do a few minutes, but as you train your mind to focus, you can lengthen it, and say just observe rolling your feet for half an hour or so. Feel free to experiment what works for you, it’s very individual. I sometimes find that people who are high-sensitive find more inner quiet by focusing inward. You will probably also experience that initially your thoughts distract you quite often. If this happens, no worries, it’s entirely natural, your mind is not used to being asked to just stay focusing on the present moment, so it’s rebelling. “Start to meditate” is really like a start to run, it takes practice. Just observe your thoughts as they come, and gently let them drift by with the breeze, bringing your attention back every time to your centre of attention. 

I am not highly sensitive, but I’m human just like anyone else, so I do get upset about things from time to time, and then I like to find my inner peace back through walking meditation. I find most calm through focusing inward: if I just sense my feet rolling and hear my footsteps for 30 minutes, I do feel that at a certain point something is shifting. My wound-up “brooding” energy is dropping, I feel more in balance and just much better in general. I can see things more easily from a different perspective, with less judgement and more understanding towards others. 

I also like running sometimes. I’m not a dye-hard by any means, I prefer short runs just to give a little boost to my heart, and stay in condition. I also prefer to keep my joints healthy, and long runs are by definition detrimental to our joints, so I just do 2-3 km, the first half at an easy pace to warm up, and the second half a condition training, with intervals of sprint and slow jogging. Last week as I was doing my jogging, I had a sudden idea and put it straight into practice. As I did my first sprint, I thought about someone I’m really thankful to. This person is my basketball trainer from my teens, he was a fantastic trainer and a genuinely kind person who was there to coach us also about life, a true blessing to have as a trainer. He passed away very suddenly recently at what I consider still a young age. As I was doing my sprint, I thanked him for all he’s given me which contributed to who I am now. Then I ran slowly for a while – which felt like a sort of reintegration like shavasana at the end of a yoga session. With the next sprint I thought about my sister and so forth, with every sprint someone else I’m genuinely grateful to for being there for me, for having given me all those amazing moments. 

I realized I could do more sprints and hold them for longer as I was practicing gratitude. It felt liberating, as if it freed up some deep-lying energies and let them flow through. I felt so good in my body and mind, while doing it but also afterwards, I could sense a change the whole day through. You might have heard of or practiced loving kindness meditation before. This one is similar, it’s just that you do it while you are running, and this way you build on the bond between your body and mind.

In case you feel like trying, I’m wishing you a happy experience!