Saltar al contenido

Walking as meditation

It is known that meditation is good for physical and mental health. It helps fight stress, anxiety, depression, high blood pressure, insomnia, inflammation, and reduced immunity. In a study with nurses, it even helped improve their empathy levels. At a molecular level, it appears to turn on some useful cells and turn off other harmful cells. In addition, it changes the composition of the brain, strengthens the frontal cortex (the planning and decision-making area), enlarges the hippocampus (the memory storage area), and shrinks the amygdala (the area related to fear and anxiety). People who meditate more often have denser gray matter, an indicator of intelligence. Between 15 and 20 minutes of daily meditation can expand critical areas of the brain, after just a couple of months of practice. So how does it link to walking?

There are monks who meditate while walking. There is no need to sit or lie down. Walking meditation combines the benefits of meditation, movement and the outdoors. Walking was one of the Buddha’s 4 favourite postures to practise ‘mindfulness’, achieving calm, clarity and joy.

It seems that walking meditation provides more benefits than simply walking. It reduces levels of cortisol, LDL cholesterol, and a protein involved in inflammation and depression. Older women who meditate walking have better coordination and balance.

How is it done? A 30-minute walk is recommended in a private and simple place, without obstacles or distractions (so you can focus on your feet) and with a space ahead of about 3 to 6 metres. Meditating walking follows the rhythm of your footsteps, not your breathing.

Close your eyes and take some slow, deep breaths before walking. Focus on the soles of your feet and the sensation of the contact with the ground. Then your focus moves to the rest of your body, slowly rising to the top of your head before returning down to the soles of your feet.

Open your eyes and start walking, focusing on how you lift your feet and how you step, and also on how you move your arms. You have to notice how your body feels when you move. If you are distracted by something, go back to thinking about how you walk and the contact of your feet with the ground. Recognise what you notice from your senses, what you hear, see, feel, taste and smell, always returning to what your footsteps are like.

There is no right way to walk. Go at your own pace and use your own way of walking. The important thing is your connection with the here and now.

It can be done at any time during a walk, at the beginning, in the middle or at the end, and it only takes a few minutes.

Source: 52 Ways to Walk: Annabel Streets – Bloomsbury Publishing