Why You Should Practice Walking Meditation
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
No matter how many times I teach a yoga class, every time I mention the word “meditation,” I see at least one person looking uncomfortable or scared.
There’s a certain stereotype of meditation in modern society with most people imagining a zen Buddhist monk on a mountain top staying completely motionless for hours upon end.
And while there are plenty of Buddhist monks on mountaintops, we definitely aren’t all perfect bodhisattvas.
That’s the reason I hear people say, “I can’t meditate. I have too many thoughts.”
The truth is everyone has thoughts. If you didn’t have thoughts you’d be…well, dead.
It’s your conscious thoughts that ignite your body and illuminate your path.
These thoughts are vital, but they don’t have to rule or dominate you.
This is where meditation purifies your thoughts and allows you to tap into your subtle energy.
My own experience with meditation has taught me to accept my thoughts and let them fly away.
I allow my mind to quiet, so that I can hear the clock on the wall or the sound of the rain outside.
When I get quieter, I tune in to the subtler thoughts in my head, the ones that get drowned out when I’m out and about in the real world.
Silence has taught me to appreciate so much.
The day I discovered walking meditation was the day my meditation practice got kicked into high gear.
I’m an active person, I like to feel the sun on my shoulders or the breeze on my ears.
I had just read The Miracle of Mindfulness by Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.
In it, he recommends taking a walk but doing it consciously and mindfully. He wrote:
“I like to walk alone on country paths, rice plants and wild grasses on both sides, putting each foot down on the earth in mindfulness, knowing that I walk on the wondrous earth. In such moments, existence is a miraculous and mysterious reality. People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child–our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
SEE ALSO: 4 Life Lessons From Hanuman
Kiss the Earth
When you walk mindfully you begin to notice and bring into your consciousness all the beauty that surrounds you.
Your neighborhood or office park takes on a new look as you appreciate the birds, the trees, the grass, or the clouds in the sky.
Have you ever stopped and watched the bees? Or ants on a tree?
How diligently they work, how profound that all this occurs every day and yet goes unnoticed.
You can walk in silence and shift your focus to your breathing or your feet as they touch the ground.
Through that silence, let go of your “ego” thoughts, the ones like, “why was my boss being so mean?” Or “what will I cook for dinner?”
These are all things that exist in the future or the past.
All we have is the current moment.
So turn your attention to your feet or your breath.
Feel the present moment and become aware of its beauty.
Listen to Music
If removing those “ego” thoughts is hard, you can begin your walking meditation by listening to an uplifting song or a guided meditation.
Let the music take you away, but don’t let it be your focus.
Instead, bring your awareness to the feelings and sensations you’re having on this walk.
Focus on your surroundings and how you are a part of this beautiful vast existence.
Let the music soothe your soul.
Practice and All is Coming
One of the godfathers of yoga, Sri K. Pattabhi Jois, once said, “do your practice and all is coming.” It is such a profound quote because it teaches us that through our practice and dedication we can learn everything and anything.
So many things can be found through the simple practice of walking.
If you build your practice of walking meditation, you will find each meditation will teach you something different.
Some days your meditation might make you feel emotional.
Sit with these emotions- they needed to rise up.
Perhaps you had been repressing them.
Some days your meditation might make you feel energized.
Other days your meditation might make you contemplate your spirituality or your connection to the earth.
Whatever you learn is exactly what needed to arise.
I always recommend keeping a journal nearby so you can write down thoughts or feelings that come through when you are on your meditation.
Whether you are new to mediation or already have a steady meditation practice, walking meditations are a beautiful practice that teach us to slow down the overactive “monkey mind.”
These meditations will become something you look forward to everyday.
They are your time to slow down, honor yourself, and kiss the earth with your feet.
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