You are probably familiar with Transcendental Meditation; a practice that involves sitting still and concentrating on your breath or a mantra. Walking meditation may not be as familiar, but it may be more practical and beneficial in renewing your mind and body.
The Art of Meditation
When you turn a walk and into a meditation practice, you use many of the same techniques used in transcendental meditation. Below are some common meditation principles:
Set a time limit for your meditation. It could be 10 minutes or 20 minutes -- you choose what works for you;
Focus your attention on your breath or a mantra;
Find a place free from distractions;
Concentrate on the present moment;
Release thoughts as they arise.
How to Start a Walking Meditation Practice
The most obvious difference between meditating while you walk and meditating while seated is that you are moving around during a walking meditation! This works well for those who feel like they are short on time or who simply don’t like to sit still. I prefer a more active meditation practice because I already spend a lot of time sitting or standing in one place as I make art and teach. Adding intentional movement into my day provides much needed mental and physical health benefits.
For creatives of all types, from urban planners to bloggers to painters, active meditation provides a key benefit: it helps you balance the need for mindfulness with the need to observe your own thoughts.
As you experiment with walking meditation, you will find you are able to engage in meditation as you complete day-to-day tasks. The ability to meditate on the fly provides the flexibility to work a meditative practice into even the busiest of days. Use the four steps below to get started:
Choose a convenient location conducive to walking without distraction. Walking around your neighborhood or a nearby, quiet park might be perfect. The location should be convenient enough that you don’t feel burdened about trying to get there. Plan your walking route ahead of time. You don’t want to have to worry about where you are going or how to find your way back.
Start your walk by standing still for a moment. Take a few deep breaths and then shift to your normal breathing pattern, focusing on each breath. Once you feel comfortable, begin your walk. Don’t rush through this pre-walk ritual. It may take you a few seconds to a few minutes before you feel ready to begin.
Choose a comfortable pace. Your pace may vary from session to session. I tend to start out walking quickly and then slow down as I concentrate on a mantra and observe the sights, sounds, and smells around me. You should be able to breathe easily as you walk, and you should not feel over-taxed.
Bring your walking meditation to an end. Most sessions last 10 to 20 minutes. As you become more practiced, you can walk and meditate for longer periods of time. If you already walk regularly, you can spend part of your walk meditating and part simply enjoying a good walk. To end your meditation, slow your walking and come to a stop. Once again, focus on your breathing. You may want to use a phrase or physical move to signal the end of your meditation. I usually stretch my arms over my head before continuing on with my day.
Turn Your Walking Meditation Into an Active Meditation Practice
Active meditation uses the same concepts as walking meditation. You incorporate the principles of meditation into tasks you do every day. Consider the following activities you might turn into a chance to meditate:
Folding the laundry or washing the dishes
Yoga or Tai Chi
Any activity you can do while also focusing on your breath or mantra, is a good candidate for inclusion in an active mediation practice.
Dealing with Thoughts and Emotions
No matter what type of meditation you practice, you will experience distracting thoughts floating into your mind. That’s normal and okay! Simply acknowledge the thoughts and let them go. You might want to visualize the thoughts evaporating as you focus back on your breathing.
In addition, as you relax during your meditation, you may experience both pleasant and unpleasant emotions. Again, this is a normal by-product of meditation. Accept the emotions. They are your truth about a situation or an experience. Focus on your breathing or mantra and let the emotions pass through you.
A regular meditative practice, whether traditional, walking, or active, is a powerful technique to help you create a calm, inspired, and motivated life. For creatives, it can produce more of the “Ah Hah!” or “Eureka!” moments that inspire our most creative products.
If you would like to learn more or find out how I can help you ignite your creativity through meditation, Contact Me.