I’m sure you have heard that meditation is a great stress reducer. But if you are like me, I have a hard time turning off and tuning in while sitting still. That is why walking meditation really works for me. Walking meditation is my greatest weapon in combating stress. The repetition of the movement helps me to keep in the present, because my mind can follow the rhythm of walking instead of getting lost in my thoughts. I can keep my awareness involved with the experience of walking and the repetition of the exercise brings about a quiet state of mind. Here is how it works:
- Map out a route. Ideally a nature trail is best. But if you don’t have time to drive to a trail, then a neighborhood, outdoor/ indoor track, treadmill or even the mall during a quiet time will work.
- Turn off the noise. Leave your Ipod or MP3 at home and turn your cell phone on vibrate. You will want to hear the sound of your breath and the subtle sounds of the natural world around you.
- Move in concert with your breath. Become aware of your breath. I try to inhale for three steps and exhale for three steps. Make sure that the length of the inhale matches the length of the exhale.
- Sense your movement. Focus on the experience of walking – the sensations in your feet and legs, your arms swinging, your whole body moving. Pay attention to each foot as it makes contact with the ground. Hear the rhythm of your feel hitting the pavement or rubber of the track or treadmill. Try not to look around, but rather gaze out in front of you.
Next time you are feeling overwhelmed, irritated or just plain stressed-out, grab your sneakers and hit the trails and give waking meditation a try.