Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is an adaptation of the formal mindfulness practice where you focus on your breathing while you are walking. It engages your senses and allows the mental chatter to become background noise.

        You can try it anytime, even in short doses, like around your house or yard (watch how much work you get done) or when stuck in traffic. Then, of course, you can do a long walk, but I find it easier when I have time constraints because there is no downtime for sitting thoughts to come back.

       For formal practice, sit in a comfortable position with your back upright, so you have good posture and stretch from the top of your head down through each part of your body as you relax into a slouching position. When walking, make sure your head is up, and you notice the world around you.

        Throughout your walking meditation, pay attention to your posture, placing each foot on the ground with good posture as though you are walking through a museum or someplace very important This leaves no room for thoughts of discomfort or pain in any part of your body because it will be there all along  Walking mindfully makes every step count which engages more of your senses than just putting attention on breathing while sitting.

       While walking, notice how many steps you take before an impulsive thought comes into your mind that might derail the mindfulness train. If this happens, bring yourself back to paying attention to the environment around you. This can include noticing the feeling of your clothes on your skin, sounds, smells, and textures in the air.

       You might also notice possible judgmental thoughts popping into your mind like “I am too fat to wear this” or “I hate my job.” I try not to judge these thoughts as bad or wrong because that adds mental chatter but instead sees it for what it is: an opinion on something that has nothing to do with me right now. This thought then becomes a cloud passing by in the sky rather than a fog that never goes away. If you want to react to an opposing view, make sure not to yell at yourself for having it. That will only add fuel to the fire of self-deprecating thoughts.

        If you want, set a timer and repeat the exact phrase every time you notice your attention has drifted somewhere else or gotten caught up in mental cha er  You might try “this is just a thought” or “this too shall pass.”

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