Meditation is one of the great stress management techniques
because it carries many varied benefits. However, more than a few people have found it to be challenging at first. Walking meditation provides the benefits of meditation
combined with the benefits of exercise
, and has the bonus benefit of being easy to learn, thereby making walking meditation a great technique for those new to meditation. Here's how walking meditation works:
Time Required: 10 - 30 Minutes
- Get into comfortable clothing and shoes, and set aside some uninterrupted free time.
- Begin walking at a comfortable pace. Really focus on the sensations that you feel in your body as you walk. Feel the weight of your body on the bottom of your feet. Feel your arms swinging with each stride. If you find thoughts coming into your mind, gently let them go and redirect your focus to the sensations you're feeling as you walk. Stay focused on now.
- You can also focus on your breathing as you walk. Try to breathe in for two steps, and out for two or three, for example. Focus on keeping your breathing and your steps coordinated. Or use mantra meditation techniques by repeating a mantra in your head as you walk, in time with your steps--for example, every four steps. (See this article for more on mantra meditation.)
- Again, if thoughts about work, money, that fight you had this morning, or other stressors creep into your head, give yourself a pat on the back for noticing, and gently redirect your attention to now, to your walking meditation practice. It's optimal to do this for 30 minutes, several times per week, but if you only have 10 minutes, or even 5, that's better than no practice at all. Walking meditation can be useful even in small doses.
- Experiment! Try different paces, different mantras, different styles of breathing, and see what works best for you.
- Commit more to the practice than to the amount of time you spend. For example, it's more important to focus on doing your walking meditation a certain number of times per week than a certain amount of minutes per time. Once it's a habit, you can always work your way into longer sessions.
- You may also want to use music as a focal point. Just be careful not to get sucked into thinking about the meaning of the lyrics, or technically, you're no longer meditating. (However, listening to music and exercising bring stress management benefits, too!)