I’m a better person when I meditate. I’m more focused and creative, and it’s easier to take a beat when I’m feeling triggered. But no matter how hard I try, I find myself struggling to stick with my mindfulness practice. It simply gets lost between work, family time, exercise, housework, and a billion other to-dos. So for the past few months, I’ve been using walking mediation to keep up with my practice.
Walking Meditation Is Basically Multitasking
“Multitasking” and “meditation” are two words you don’t normally see in the same sentence. And maybe I’m missing the point, but the idea of multitasking is a big draw when it comes to fitting anything into my day including meditation. When I take a mindful walk, I’m also getting my exercise and walking the dog. So my body feels great, Tahoe is happy, and my mind feels focused and calm for the rest of the day.
It’s Easy. Here’s How!
I like to start by firing up the Stop, Breathe & Think app and popping in my ear buds. I find it easiest to focus when I have someone guiding my mindful walk — at least to start. Once I’ve begun walking, I focus on breath and how the air feels, smells and tastes as I inhale and exhale. Then I bring my awareness to my feet. What does the ground feel like under them? How do they feel supported? Gradually, I bring my focus up my body. What do my leg muscles feel like as they lift and lower my feet? What are my arms doing?
Finally, I turn my attention outwards, taking the time to notice the world around me. What color is the sky today? What sounds do I hear? What do I smell? I notice each sensation and acknowledge it as I continue moving through my walk.
It’s Made Me More Aware Of My Everyday Surroundings
Walking mediation has made me realize how much I didn’t know about my neighborhood. In the three months since I’ve started mindful walking, I’ve discovered a quail family that lives in the reeds near my son’s favorite park. I’ve noticed a magnolia tree that always seems to be in bloom even though its season has supposedly passed. And I’ve become aware of my neighbors’ habits — who sweeps her deck on a particular day, what time so-and-so leaves for work, and which person belongs to the fierce Maltese who’s always barking at the fence.
With Awareness Comes Gratitude and Joy
I realize I’m very fortunate to live in a beautiful, safe neighborhood, and taking the time to notice the people and things that make it so special fills me with gratitude and joy. Since I’m walking with focused awareness, I’m truly present in those feelings and a sort of lovingkindness meditation just starts happening. I’m sending good feelings to the people I see, and thanking the trees, birds, and sky for simply being. Sounds woo-woo, I know. But the thing about walking mediation is that it just makes me feel good.
A Mindful Walk Can Make Meditation Easier
Like many people, more traditional ways of mediation make me feel like I’m wrestling with my mind. On a mindful walk, I’m embracing my surroundings and incorporating them into my practice. I’m noticing them with awareness, acknowledging them, and moving on. Interestingly, this has made “regular” mediation easier for me. Instead of fighting with my busy mind, I’m better at noticing thoughts and let them pass. A very cool – and unexpected – benefit!
What’s your favorite way to meditate? And how do you fit mindfulness into your daily life?