“Make the effort to let go of your worries” Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation is the perfect alternate if your body and mind are too restless to sit and rest in stillness. Its also a lovely change from the usual meditation practices.
No great skill or understanding is required simply the attention of your mind – on your breath, foot steps and the ground. Of course you’ll need to adjust your walking pace to slow and gentle something I struggled with at first.
Walking meditation can be practised inside or outside:
The beauty of walking meditation is that it can be practiced in your home, walking to your car, walking home from the shops, in nature or even in a public place.
It is a marvelous healing tool:
* for your body and mind to become one (via breath)
* calm strong emotions, live more in the present moment
* give focus to your inside world rather than your outer
* draw excess energy ( thoughts ) out of your head and back down into your body
“Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.”
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh:
I have only recently deepened my appreciation for walking meditation. In the past, I always felt that a walking or active meditation was some how cheating. But I know different now from my recent experiences with it.
If you feel drawn to trying walking meditation I can highly recommend a fabulous book called Walking Meditation by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and Nguyen Anh-Huong.
The Walking Meditation book is short, simple and very easy to read. All instructions are super clear. An added bonus is that it comes with an instructional DVD and a CD that includes 5 walking meditations. What more can you need. From memory I only paid around $15.00 for it on amazon. Great value I thought.
There is no goal to walking meditation:
There is no goal. Walking meditation is not about arriving at your destination or rushing to finish your walk, but simply being mindful that you are walking and that you are breathing. Your destination is here and now.
Walk leisurely and peacefully, with soft eyes and gentle belly breaths.
4 key steps for walking meditation:
“Walking meditation is meditation while walking” Thich Nhat Hanh
1: Gentle Belly Breathing:
For your body to fully participate in a walking meditation you need to be aware of your breath. Use a gentle belly breath to calm your thoughts, relax your body, hips, elbows, muscles, legs, face, eyes and ears. Place your hands on your belly to feel it rise and fall (optional).
Breath in “resting” Breath out “softening”.
Walk with soft eyes, slowly and gently. Feel the sensation of each foot as it presses down onto the earth. Notice your foot as it lifts up, touches the ground and is lifted up again. Follow the movement of every foot step with your mind and breath.
To keep your mind focused on each step and each breath Thich Nhat Hanh suggests counting your number of steps to each inhale and each exhale. It helps prevent your mind from getting distracted with other thoughts.
1 inhale for 3 steps, 1 exhale for 3 steps. This is only a guideline and it will be different for everyone. You might be 2 steps for an inhale and 4 for an exhale.
My inhales and exhales were not equal at first. I kept repeating “resting” on the inhale and “softening” on the exhale until my mind and body relaxed more and I was able to balance my breathing rhythm.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a lover of smiles and half smiles (turn up the corners of your lips). It is said a smile brings lightness to your feet, invites your body to relax and helps you settle more easily into the walking meditation. Not a bad secret ingredient I thought.
“Don’t bring anxiety and stress to the ground with your feet” Thich Nhat Hanh
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