Walking meditation may be a lesser-known technique, but it can be a highly useful and extremely effective way to practice mindfulness when performed properly. Below is a simple guide by Russell Herbert Jack, Southland Yoga guru, that can help you learn how and where to effectively practice walking meditation and what to wear while doing so.
Step 1: What to Wear
Before you practice walking meditation, you’re going to want to make sure you’re dressed comfortably. Just as with any form of meditation, it’s as important to be comfortable as it is to avoid any form of distraction and allow for greater relaxation. Wear anything that is not burdensome and will not obstruct free movement. As for footwear, socks or bare feet are best for indoors, while any kind of comfortable shoe or sandals will do for outdoors.
Step 2: Where to Go
In order to properly practice walking meditation, you’re going to need an open and unobstructed space in which you are able to walk in a straight line for a distance of at least ten feet. Some practitioners prefer a larger area, but you can easily make do with ten feet if need be. Always try and ensure that your walking meditation area is peaceful, relaxing, and distraction-free.
Step 3: Center Yourself
Once you’ve found your ideal area, prepare yourself with some box breathing. This is done by slowly inhaling, holding your breath, slowly exhaling, and holding again, all in four-second intervals, and then repeating the cycle. Do this until you feel centered and free of distraction.
Step 4: Begin Walking
Now walk from one end of your area to the other, focusing on the mechanics of each and every step. Once you’ve reached the end of your area, take a moment to pause and breathe, then turn around and walk back.Create a gentle natural rhythm with your walking, and give the lifting, moving, and placing of each foot, as well as the shifting of weight from one foot to the other, great attention. This cyclical act is intended to center you and increase your capacity for mindfulness the more you practice it.
What to Do with Your Arms and Hands
Walking meditation is supposed to be as natural as possible. This means that you should do whatever feels the most comfortable with your arms and hands, whether that means clasping your hands together in front of your body or behind it or letting your arms hang freely at your side. If ever you should feel too mechanical in any aspect of your walking, try to relax your body and find the most organic and comfortable form of movement that you can.
When You Become Distracted
Distractions, and a wandering mind, are an inevitable part of meditation. When these things arise, allow them their time and then refocus. It’s important not to resist your wandering mind, but rather to acknowledge it and let it pass.
About Russell Herbert Jack
Russell Herbert Jack, Southland Yoga founder, lives in Invercargill, New Zealand. He specializes in Vinyasa Yoga, Qigong, and guided meditations. He once studied environmental sciences at the University of Otago but left in order to pursue his passions as a mindfulness and yoga teacher. His dedication to nature and the protection of living things continues through his volunteer efforts with the World Animal Protection organization and his frequent donations to various non-profit organizations dedicated to protecting rare and endangered species in his home country.