Updated: May 13
Walking meditation is often the easiest way to begin a meditation practice. It breaks through barriers to meditation because it's not sitting cross-legged with your hands on your knees. Which, quite frankly, can be a challenging way to meditate for some people.
Often during meditation, you will focus on your breath, a candle, or a mantra. With walking meditation, the focus is on your feet and the sensations of the earth under your feet, and how your body shifts and rebalances as it moves throughout space and a changing environment. The most important part of a walking meditation is remaining present to the actions your body is taking as you move – lifting one foot, moving it forward, placing it on the earth from heel to toe, and shifting your weight forward.
Here are some best practices to keep in mind as you begin your walking meditation:
Choose a location. Any location will work, whether that is at the beach, in the mountains, or walking through a city. Some things to think about include your ability to tune out noise and distractions and whether you want to walk barefoot or in shoes. Keep in mind, with walking meditation you are not trying to reach a destination. You're in it for the journey.
Set your pace. Walking meditation is slow and deliberate with a focus on the mechanisms of movement and the sensations of each step. Remember to focus on the act of lifting one foot, moving it forward, placing it down from heel to toe, and shifting your weight before beginning the process on the opposite side.
Minimize arm and hand movements. Rest your hands at your sides or clasp your hands behind your back or in front of you. Walking meditation is not about vigorously walking; thus, swinging your arms. Center the focus on your feet and the movement between you and the surface below you. The arms will move a bit to counteract the shifting balance, but this shouldn’t be exaggerated, and shouldn’t be the focus.
Focus your attention. To begin with, focus your attention on the movement. As your practice grows, shift your focus to your breath or a mantra. Take a gratitude walk by simply saying "thank you" as you take a step or think of the things you're grateful for in your life.
Go barefoot. Grounding or earthing is the act of walking barefoot on sand, dirt, or grass. Your body connects with the earth's energy. Barefoot walking is restorative. Some studies show that the electrical conductivity between your body and the earth enhances your immune defense mechanisms and reduces muscle damage and pain following exercise.
The simplest form of walking meditation is to just walk and observe.
However, there are other forms of walking meditation with a specific focus, including walking back and forth along a dedicated path, walking clockwise around a room, walking while practicing specific pranayama, or walking and sensing sights or sounds in your environment.
As with any new practice, begin slowly yet deliberately, and notice how you feel and what works for you. As you become more aware while walking, you might start to bring some of the techniques into your daily walks to and from errands, or to the train or car. When you begin to make walking a more deliberate, mindful practice you'll see that you can seamlessly bring meditation into your daily life.
Listen to an audio walking meditation HERE.
Jessica Crow helps people harness the power of meditation and mindfulness to change their lives and the lives of others for the better through practical courses and personalized mentorship.
Find out more about the new 100- Hour CNTRD Meditation Teacher Training and its new 12 week to 12 month, study-at-your-own-pace format, and check out her book 'The Power of Guided Meditation', published by Fairwinds Press.