If you have the ability to, you probably walk every day of your life. When you’re walking, usually you’re doing so to get somewhere. It’s how you get from point A to point B. And like any activity, you can bring the spirit of mindfulness to walking by refocusing your awareness on it. The nice thing about the mindful walking meditation is that you don’t have to do anything extra. You probably walk throughout the day. Mindful walking is just about doing it differently.
Begin by slowing down the process of walking. Draw all of your attention to just one step. Notice the sensation of the foot lifting. Attend to the way it travels through the air. Gently place the foot back on the ground. Repeat the process with the other foot. Just experience the movement, the sensations in the soles of your feet, the muscles turning on and off, weight shifting from one side to the other, the subtle corrections of other muscles maintaining balance. Rather than focusing on where you are going, pay attention to how you are getting there. In this way it’s a nice metaphor for a life well-lived.
It may be helpful to start in a quiet place, free from distractions, slowing the movement down to slow motion speed. Just concentrate on one step at a time, deliberately, and with awareness. Again and again, spending time with each step. Once you gain some familiarity with this slowed down practice, turn your mindfulness to the walking you do throughout the day – walking to the refrigerator, walking down the street, walking to the water cooler, walking in the store. Allow mindfulness to coexist with your already-established, normal everyday routine.
You will find your mind wander repeatedly throughout the practice. That is to be expected. Plans for the future, memories, judgments about whether you are doing this “right.” Wandering is exactly what your mind is supposed to do. Your only job is to notice when you mind has wandered, and bring it back to taking this one step. Click here for more information about mindfulness-based therapies.
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