Nature Walks: Experience Walking Meditations
A World of Stress
With so much stress in the world, it’s more important than ever to create a daily meditation practice. Most people still associate meditation with sitting cross-legged, fingers formed into the “okay” sign, and eyes closed. When surveyed, a majority of people say they don’t meditate because they can’t sit still. No problem. Walking can be a form of moving meditation.
The Benefits of Walking Meditations:
Walking meditations are an antidote to stress. According to Dr. C. Norman Shealy, Harvard neurosurgeon, founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, author, and also my mentor, 85% of all illnesses are a result of lifestyle choices and are, therefore, avoidable.
The Mayo Clinic reports that the benefits of a brisk, daily walk include:
- Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight
- Lower blood pressure
- Prevention or management of heart disease
- Prevention or management of Type 2 diabetes
- Strengthened bones and muscles
- Improved mood
- Improved balance and coordination
Combine these benefits with nearly 100 benefits received through meditation and you add:
- Anxiety and stress reduction
- Reduced fear, depression, feelings of disconnection and loneliness
- Improved optimism
- Improved resiliency
- Sharper mental processing
- Improved memory and recall ability
- Increased ability to focus
- Improved immune function
- Increased energy levels
How to Practice Walking Meditations:
Walk gently on the earth and set an intention before heading out. You don’t need to go on a five-mile hike. A ten to fifteen-minute walk in one direction and a return to your starting place is fine. If you have hit the energy drain wall, instead of grabbing a handful of potato chips or candy, pop up from your chair and get moving. When your mind feels foggy and you’re stumped by not being able to figure something out, the wonderful combination of movement and meditation is magical!
Set Your Intention
There are many ways to do a walking meditation. Maybe you’ll choose to focus on sensory experiences, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and textures of the place of your particular walk. The same route will offer different findings each day. You might decide to choose an alternate route daily or weekly to see what you discover. It’s restful to give your mind a break, and it doesn’t have to be filled with the void in order to have a meditative quality.
You might walk with the intention to list all of the things for which you are grateful. Before you begin your walking meditation, take a few deep and cleansing breaths and ask a specific question. For example, “What is the best way that I can approach my boss about a raise?” or “How do I want to respond to the argument I had with my friend?” Then begin to walk rhythmically. Feel your heel connect with the earth and roll toward your toe, each step propelling you forward.
Set an alarm on your phone for ten to fifteen minutes so you know when to turn around or you can walk to a set destination and turn back when you arrive there. But that single focus invites your mind to pay attention to one thing. Any stray thoughts get redirected back to the question of relevance or sent on their way like passing clouds. As your circulation increases and you have, literally, moved things out of the way, possibilities can occur to you that seemed hidden before you set out on your walk.
Don’t wait until the start of a new year to make a resolution. Begin managing your mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional stress now. Every small step is a step forward.
Get moving in the direction of your dreams. Here’s to your good health!
I invite you to grab your FREE Place of Peace Guided Meditation to enjoy.