Meditation on the MoveBy Meagan Francis
So you’ve been wanting to try meditation, but just can’t seem to get the kids to stop climbing on you while you’re sitting in lotus position (the cross-legged pose often associated with yoga)? Walking meditation might be for you.
Simply put, walking meditation is meditating while in motion. It might be a good option if you have a hard time staying focused, tend to get antsy from sitting still or have little ones who like to keep on the move. Walking meditation can accommodate strollers and slings — the only requirement is that you remain fully conscious of each step you take while developing a rhythmic pattern of breathing and walking. It’s especially adaptable to family life because you don’t have to stop moving to have a meaningful break.
Bring this practice into your life
How can you turn a simple stroll into a walking meditation? To begin, notice your breathing patterns. You may be taking short or shallow breaths without being aware of it. Take a few deep breaths, allowing yourself to make the transition from a rushed attitude into a calmer space.
Next, become aware of your environment. What is the temperature like? Take note of the sights, sounds and sensations of your surroundings. Now become aware of each part of your body. Are you holding tension in an area you weren’t consciously aware of? Scan your back, neck and shoulders for tension, as they are common areas in which we hold stress.
One foot in front of the other
When you start to walk, be conscious of the feeling of your feet on the walking surface. Each step has six parts: raising the foot, lifting the foot, pushing the foot forward, dropping the foot, touching the foot to the ground and then pressing down on it. Try to be aware of each of these six parts with every step you take.
Now, try to pace your breathing with the rhythm of your steps. Your speed is not important as long as your pace is consistent. Take the same number of steps within each breath, and find a pattern that is comfortable for you. The idea is to focus on your breath, your body and your environment. If your mind starts to wander, simply bring it back to focus on your breath.
Put it all together
As soon as you get the hang of it, you can adjust your pace to accommodate a slow stroll from your bedroom to the bathroom or a brisk walk around the block. According to Siri Nam Khalsa, a meditation instructor at Creative Wellness of East Lansing, Michigan, “One advantage of walking meditation is that no one knows you are doing it. You can do it while walking your dog. You don’t need to invest a tremendous amount of time. Even 15 minutes would be beneficial.”
Some of the benefits associated with meditating include better sleep, better health, better concentration and mental clarity and a calmer attitude — all assets when it comes to the busy and often exhausting job of parenting. So what are you waiting for? Hit the road and walk your way to a more peaceful mind.
© Meagan Francis
Meagan Francis is the mother of three wonderful sons. While she's not tracking down Bionicle pieces, she works as the office manager/ communications director for a freestanding birth center. She's also a freelance writer and has been published in magazines like Brain,Child, Skirt! and ePregnancy.