Meditation for the Mover
Walking Meditation – What is it?
Moving into a week of mindfulness, meditation is a great way to reconnect. Unfortunately for mamas, any extended period of time spent seated is likely to end with either obsessively running through the ‘to do’ list or passing out from sheer exhaustion. How then, particularly for new mamas, do we make meditation accessible? Simple ~ Walking Meditation.
It sounds a little contradictory right? I can hear you saying, meditation whilst moving around? I thought meditation was all about sitting with the eyes closed, hands on the knees, clearing the mind? Well, it doesn’t have to be. Walking meditation is finding a meditation walk, opening your mind to all the senses and taking a mindful look at the world.
When we practice walking meditation, we arrive in each moment. Our true home is in the present moment. When we enter the present moment deeply, our regrets and sorrows disappear, and we discover life with all its wonders. Breathing in, we say to ourselves, I have arrived. Breathing out, we say, I am home. When we do this we overcome dispersion and dwell peacefully in the present moment, which is the only moment for us to be alive. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation is not simply a stroll in the park, although the park or as close to nature you can be is a great place to start. To achieve a walking meditation, try to choose a path that doesn’t require too much navigation and therefore thought. Circling a park you know well or even a few blocks of your street. Make sure you have about 15-20 minutes to take this walk and turn your phone off. This is also a great opportunity to take baby for a walk in the pram, perhaps for a nap or just some fresh air for you both.
- Start standing in stillness and simply notice the body – your posture, where your breath is, your state of mind. Before you begin, lengthen your tailbone, draw your shoulders back and down, lift up through the crown of the head and take a few deep breaths into the belly.
- As you begin walking, find a nice slow rhythm to your walk. Notice the feel of the ground beneath your feet, try walking through the heel, sole of your foot, all the way to the toes.
- Start to notice the movement of the rest of your body, the feeling of your clothes against your skin, the movement of your hips, your muscles engaging and relaxing, the feeling of the pram handle lightly beneath your hands.
- Find a rhythm to your walk and match it with the slow rhythm of your breath.
- Start to notice all the elements around you, drawing in through all the senses – the smells as you breath in through the nose, the feel of the air on your skin, the sounds surrounding you near and far. With a soft gaze, notice what you see as you continue to walk at a steady rhythm.
- Come back to your posture, notice if your shoulders have travelled forward and up, if you are still walking all the way through the soles of your feet and if your breath has shortened. Slow it down.
- Become aware of how you feel ~ in your body, in your mind, your emotional state. Soften the muscles of your face.
You can continue in your walking meditation as long as you like. If your baby has gone to sleep and there’s a nice patch of grass, maybe take this opportunity now to sit for a few moments. This doesn’t have to be with the eyes closed in a traditional meditation, but simply taking the time to rest and notice the body in a moment of stillness.
For those of you who already have a seated meditation practice, a walking meditation can be the perfect complement. When I am particularly frazzled and feeling like the world is crumbling down on me, taking a walk to the park to come back to my senses simply allows me to reset and refresh. Reward yourself with a coffee on the way home!
For a fantastic resource on walking meditation techniques, visit: http://liveanddare.com/walking-meditation/
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