The practice of mindful walking or meditative walking can increase our vitality and connection between our bodies and Nature. We feel the earth beneath our feet and with each step, we take in a breath of fresh new air. Our senses come alive and call us home to ourselves. I have noticed lately there are more people on the trail at all hours of the day. It seems with the national call to pause, more folks are walking. With nowhere to go and no time constraints, walking seems to be making a comeback.
Meditative walking or mindful walking is about being conscious while we walk. Instead of disconnecting from our awareness and continuing in autopilot, we tune and tap in. When we tune and tap in through various forms of meditation, we experience inner peace, clear vision, insight, and increase our intuition. We also build our positive coping for difficult times.
Here is how I begin, participate and end my walking meditation. I put on very comfortable clothing, There is nothing more irritating than trying to relax and my clothes are too tight, don’t fit right or I am feeling self-conscious. I make sure my sneakers are properly fitted and not causing my feet to ache. I also double knot my laces, so they do not come loose during my walk. As I am preparing to leave the house, I am setting my intention. Every meditative walk I take, I set an intention for relaxation, peace, clarity, or something that will support my day.
Once outside and still in my walkway, I notice what’s new in my garden. I always try to notice one thing that is new in my yard before leaving. This sets the tone for a beginner's mind. Placing each step on the earth with my foot, I focus on feeling the ground. I also notice how my feet, legs and hips feel. By doing this I can adjust my pace. As I walk I notice my arms and how they are swinging, I notice the sway of my body. For me, I want to feel my body's response to being outside. Do I feel the sun, is it overcast, moist or dry in the air? I choose to notice everything including my breath. I like to choose a rhythm for inhalations and exhales as I am walking. Inhale to the count of three and exhale out to three steps is a nice place to begin. It feels good to notice my breath in this way, most of us breathe all day long without ever noticing our breath.
Walking meditation is my way to notice and connect with my body and how it is responding to nature’s breath. During my walk I will play “I spy,” my favorite road trip game as a child, choosing something to spy and look for. Sometimes its grasshoppers, fruit, wild edible plants, certain textures, it really just depends on how I feel. While I play I Spy with myself, I continue to notice my feet moving, body swaying, hair locks blowing and my thoughts.
Noticing my thoughts is very important. Noticing what holds my attention and what floats away really supports my practice. For me, it's important to not force thoughts to leave my mind but simply become aware of my inner conversations. Yes, this takes practice not to get involved in old conversations or rehearse ones that have not occurred, as this is an energy sucker and feeds my anxieties. When I notice I am caught up in the past or future, I say to myself very firmly, “okay that’s enough, I am not there, I am here.” It’s at this point I usually burst into tears and just feel the release. I turn to Creator and pray for clarity.
Upon my return from my walk, I always end on my front porch just sitting. I thank all the energies that joined me, such as the earth, ancestors, God and any creatures I saw on my way. This may seem like a lot, but the practice has paid off. Feeling more centered and grounded than not is amazing. Being able to cope with life through my own inner mechanisms is completely underrated. If you are just beginning to explore walking as a meditative tool, take it slow. Take one or two of these suggestions and play with that for a while before adding more.
Be well and walk in the Spirit.