As Spring begins and we seek some more outdoor activity there is no need to sacrifice the benefits of meditation. Cultivating mindful awareness is at the crux of our Yoga and meditation practices. Bringing this to our other activities such as walking can be a powerful way to add power and feel peace growing in each step along the way.Here is a simple walking meditation to support ongoing presence, stress reduction and heightened awareness. It can be done indoors or out.
A mindful walk. Find a quiet place where you can walk back and forth over about 30 feet. In each of the three parts of this exercise, simply note the sensations in your feet and legs as you lift and move each in turn. Whenever your mind wanders, bring it back to those sensations. Don’t strain your neck by looking at your feet; keep a relaxed gaze at a point in front of you. Take 20 minutes for the entire exercise.
First Walk: Keep normal pace, noting mentally “left” as you move your left foot forward and “right” as you move your right foot forward. Stay tuned to the sensations that go along with those movements.
Second Walk: Go a bit slower this time, and divide each step in your mind into “lifting” (leg goes up and forward) and “placing” (leg comes down). Finish one step completely before lifting the other foot.
Third Walk: A much slower pace — be aware of a three-part motion to each step: “lifting”, “moving”, then “placing”, try a snail’s pace.
Over time resistances to slowing down in this way can be overcome. Just as in a sitting mediation practice, it is common as the habit of mindfulness is built you will to incorporate more restful and wakeful moments of silence in movement. The benefits of Yoga and the sitting practice are enhanced as these changes are integrated through practice.