Below are some ways walking meditation can provide great health and studies to support this.
What is walking meditation? Walking meditation is more than just going out for a walk. Meditation is an important form to train the mind in being aware of what is occurring. Being mindful and meditating can be practiced anywhere. It can occur while we are sitting, washing the dishes, as well as taking a walk. Walking meditation is a practice that involves our body and mind to be aware of the physical sensation that occurs when we move.
There are a few steps we should take in order to practice walking meditation correctly. The first step is to pick a place. It is important to look for a place where you can walk without any traffic, a place that is peaceful and open space so you can walk freely without being distracted by your surroundings. The second step is to start your steps. You should walk 10-15 steps in the direction of the location chosen and then pause and take a moment to breath. Then once this is done, turn around and take a walk back in the opposite direction. Similarly, pause and breath again then repeat the following step in the opposite direction.
The third step of walking meditation is the components that go into each step. The purpose of walking meditation is walking with intention. This means to purposely think about an action that we usually perform all the time without thinking. Focus on the action of lifting one foot, the action of moving of the foot a bit forward of where you are standing, the placement of the foot on the floor with the heel first, and then focus on the shifting of the body weight from the back heel to the forward leg in which the toes of that foot remain touching the floor and then focus on the cycle continuing. The fourth step is speed. You can walk at any speed you like but it is important to note that walking meditation is supposed to be slow and involves taking small step. It is not supposed to overwork you and the speed should feel natural.
The fifth step is your hands and arms. Hand and arm placement might feel awkward at times. During walking mediations, you can clasp your hands either behind or in front of you or you can let them hang on the side. It is important to do whatever feels comfortable and least awkward to you. The sixth step is focusing your attention. Focus on not only your movements but also on your breathing. Focus on the breath going on and the breath going out.
The seventh step is knowing what to do when your mind wanders. It’s ok for this to occur. It is bound to happen that the mind wanders at first but it is important to shift your focus back on one of the sensations that occur while walking such as focusing on your steps and focusing on your breathing. The eighth and last step is to integrate walking meditation into your daily life. Just like any activity and skill that is acquired in life, meditation takes time and practice to fully implement and be mindful of while doing any activity.
The more practice and attention that is given to meditation, the more it will be implemented easily in life. Overall, meditation has many great benefits to the mind and body which helps a person decrease their stress.
About the Author: Mindworks Team Mindworks provides essential and extensive training in meditation practice and life coaching. Our international team of meditation experts is comprised of highly accomplished meditators, and Mindworks provides essential and extensive training in meditation practice and life coaching. Our international team of meditation experts is comprised of highly accomplished meditators. “What Is Walking Meditation? Benefits & Practice: Mindworks.” Mindworks Meditation, 14 May 2021, mindworks.org/blog/what-is-walking-meditation/.
“Walking Meditation (Greater Good in Action).” Practices, ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation.
There are many ways to meditate, sitting on a yoga mat, at a desk, doing the dishes or even taking a walk. Meditation in motion is a great way for beginners to introduce mindfulness into there every day human experience. Here is your guide to walking meditation.
You can take your daily stroll for however long you want, but if you just do not have the time, all you need is 10 minutes.
Find a Location:
Find a space that allows you to walk back and forth. Pace for 10-15 times. You can practice walking meditation inside or outside.
Start your Steps:
Walk 10-15 steps along the lane you chose. Pause and breathe for as long as you like. When you’re ready, turn and walk back in the opposite direction to the other end of the lane. Pause and breathe again. Then when you are ready, turn again and continue you the walk. Walking meditation involves deliberate movements and thinking about and doing a series of actions that you would do automatically. Instead, notice the 4 basic components of each step:
The lifting of the foot.
The moving of the foot
The placing of the foot on the floor, notice heal 1 or toe 1.
The shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward left as the back heel lifts, while the toes of that foot remain touching the ground.
Then continue the cycle
Lift your back foot totally off the ground.
Observe the back foot as it swings forward and lowers
Observe the back foot as it contacts the ground heel 1
Feel the weight shift onto that foot as the body moves forward.
You can walk in any speed you like, but taking small steps is important if you are struggling to concentrate.
You can clasp your hands behind your back or in front of you, or you can just let them hang at your side; whatever feels comfortable and natural
Focusing your attention:
As you walk, focus your attention on one or more sensations that you would normally take for granted, such as your breath coming in and out of your body. The movement of your feet and legs, or their contact with the ground or floor; your head balanced on your neck and shoulders; sounds nearby or those caused by the movement of your body. If your mind starts to wander, simply turn your attention to the mindfulness f your breath, or the movement of your walk.
Walking meditation lowers stress and blood pressure, reduces anxiety, improves sleep, and increases focus and concentration by allowing you to slow down, get in touch with your body, the world around you; staying present. Other health related benefits include improving digestion, blood levels and circulation.
Walking Meditation (Greater Good in Action). Practices. https://ggia.berkeley.edu/practice/walking_meditation. Accessed June 2, 2021.
About the Author: Mindworks Team Mindworks provides essential and extensive training in meditation practice and life coaching. Our international team of meditation experts is comprised of highly accomplished meditators, Mindworks provides essential and extensive training in meditation practice and life coaching. Our international team of meditation experts is comprised of highly accomplished meditators. What Is Walking Meditation? Benefits & Practice: Mindworks. Mindworks Meditation. https://mindworks.org/blog/what-is-walking-meditation/. Published May 14, 2021. Accessed June 2, 2021.
Walking meditations have been used for so long there is no history or agreement about their origin, meaning, or use. The labyrinth can be used for walking meditation for healing and self-care. A labyrinth looking path can be found in churches, parks, schools, and medical facilities. At these locations, people can use these labyrinths for stress reduction, coping, and management of grief and loss. One does not need a labyrinth to practice the art and achieve the benefits of walking meditation.
Walking meditation is similar to regular meditation in which it is meant to connect both the mind and the body. However, walking meditation turns an everyday action into a tool for mindfulness and stress reduction. Simply put, it is a meditation while in motion technique to bring the mind into the present moment.
There are benefits found in walking meditation that are not found in sitting meditation. This includes enabling the body to walk long distances. Nowadays, people are sitting for long periods, especially during the pandemic. While everyone is quarantining and working remotely Walking meditation also brings people patience and endurance into their lives while helping to overcome sickness from physical activity. Walking meditation also benefits the digestive system from the movement. Finally, walking meditation helps a person concentrate for longer periods. For this reason, many people practice walking meditation before practicing sitting meditation.
Below are some steps on how to do a walking meditation:
1. Bring feet close together; have your right hand hold your left hand either in front of your body or behind; look at the ground about 2 meters in front of you
2. Walking in a straight line, start with the right foot. While you are picking the right foot off of the ground, say to yourself, “stepping right”
3. Place your right foot one-foot length in front of your left foot
4. Now, while saying, “stepping left” move your left foot one-foot length in front of your right foot
5. Continue steps 2 and 3 for about 6 meters
6. When ready to turn around, bring your feet together while saying “stopping” repeatedly
7. Now repeatedly say “standing” while standing still
8. Now lift your right foot and turn it 90 degrees while saying “turning”
9. Now lift your left foot and turn it 90 degrees while saying “turning”
10. Repeat steps 7 and 8 once more so now you are standing 180 degrees from where you started.
11. Now repeat the word “standing” before taking any steps
12. Now repeat steps 2 & 3 and walk back to your starting point.
13. When ready to turn back around, repeat steps 5-10
14. Repeat this process for about 10 minutes
It is important to note that you must acknowledge the movement while it is happening. If something comes into the mind while practicing the meditation, bring your back foot forward while repeating, “stopping.” Become aware of the thought or emotion and repeat the word “thinking.” Once the thought goes away, continue to walk in the same fashion as before.
Below is a video that explains the practice of walking meditation:
Sandor MK. The labyrinth: a walking meditation for healing and self-care. Explore (NY). 2005;1(6):480-483. doi:10.1016/j.explore.2005.08.013
Another study showed that walking meditation promotes ankle balance performance in elderly women. 58 women around the age of 69 years old were randomized to a control and walking meditation group. The walking meditation group participated in 8 weeks of walking practice 30 minutes a day for 3 days a week. Balance performance was evaluated by using the Berg Balance Scale (BBS), Functional Reach Test (FRT), and Timed Up and Go test (TUG). After training, the walking meditation group showed a significant decrease in the ankle reposition test (AAE), as well as improvements in the other 3 tests as well. On the other hand, the control group showed no change in AAE, but significant decreased in BBS and FRT. This study shows that walking meditation can provide a great benefit to improve balance and ankle reposition in elderly patients.
In high school I severely hurt my ankle playing hockey, I believe I tore something in my foot but I could be wrong. And for treatment I had to do all of these walking meditation exercises so I could walk properly again. Even today almost 7 or 8 years later my ankle will give out and I try to remember all of the techniques I was taught to alleviate the pain so my balance is not affected.
Improves blood sugar levels and circulation
Another study showed that traditional walking and walking meditation reduced blood glucose levels. 23 patients with Type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to traditional walking exercise (n =11) and others the Buddhism-based walking method of medication exercise (n=12). Both groups participated in a 12 week walking exercise program that consisted of 30 minute sessions 3 times a week. After 12 weeks, the results showed that the fasting blood glucose levels decreased significantly in both groups. On top of this, there was a significant decrease in the HbA1c and both systolic and diastolic blood pressure in the walking medication group, which shows there is an additional benefit to this kind of therapy.
Labyrinth walking has been a practice of relaxation, physical medicine, for many centuries.
Effects of Reflective Labyrinth Walking Assessed Using a Questionnaire
Another study showed that walking meditation can alleviate depression as well. A small study included 45 elderly patients between the ages of 60 and 90 years old with mild to moderate depressive symptoms. They were all randomly selected to be in the control, traditional walking, and walking meditation group. Based on depression score, function fitness, and endothelium-dependent vasodilation, outcomes were measured to see improvement. The dynamic balance, cardio endurance, and flow meditated dilation was improved in both exercise groups. The depression score decreased only in the walking meditation group however which is important to note.
Reduce anxiety levels
We may usually see meditation as standing still or sitting down in one place with deep breaths, however walking meditation is also a specific technique used when walking at a slow pace. People do walking meditation in sessions in between seated meditations. Some benefits of walking meditation includes having boosted blood flow. Walking would get the blood flowing in the legs and different parts of the body. This also improves digestion because movement helps with your digestive tract moving as well. Studies have showed that walking is more effective at reducing anxiety levels as well. About 110 participants were randomly assigned to walks meditate, or walk then meditation, or meditate then walk, or just to sit. The results showed that either meditating, meditating before walking or walking before meditating all show significant changes in their anxiety levels.