How to Take a Meditative Walk
As a low-impact exercise, walking boosts both physical and mental health. But it can also be a form of meditation. In fact, the easy, repetitive motion makes it an ideal alternative to seated meditation. Try one of these methods to make your next walk more meditative.
Many guided meditations include a body scan, directing awareness to one body part at a time until you’ve scanned the entire body. The same can be done while walking. As you step, bring your awareness to the bottom of your right foot. How does it feel as it hits the ground? As it leaves the ground? After a few steps, move to the top of the foot, then the ankle, the calf, and so on, until you’ve spent time focusing on every part of the body.
To make walking a sensory experience, bring your awareness to the senses one at a time. To start with touch, notice how your body feels as you walk. How does it feel to move? How does the air feel on the skin? After a block or so, transfer the awareness to sound. Do you hear cars passing? People talking? Your own footsteps? Try to identify each sound individually. Next, focus on what you see. Look directly in front of you, and notice what’s there. Then look up or down, to the right or left, and focus on what you see in each direction. Then, take a deep breath in through your nose. What do you smell? Flowers on nearby bushes? Fresh bread from a bakery? Something less pleasant, like car exhaust or cigarette smoke? Finally, bring the awareness to taste. Is there a taste in your mouth? Minty residue from your toothpaste, or the aftertaste of coffee? Once you’ve progressed through all five senses, simply breathe slowly and deeply as you walk.
Taking a walk also offers time to think. And while it can be easy to let the mind run away with worries, try to use the time for gratitude instead. As you walk, bring your attention to something you’re grateful for. Think about why you’re grateful for it, and notice how thinking about it makes you feel. After a block or so, bring to mind something else and repeat the process.
Meditation and walking both offer excellent health and mood benefits, so try combining them and see how you feel afterwards.