This time of year can feel hectic and panicked for all of us; as school comes to a finish, and work gears up for summer, we’re all trying to stay organized in this transition. Balancing this can feel exhausting and overwhelming. How can we take a break from this, quiet our anxieties, and take some time to ourselves? How do we find just a few moments to catch our breath and focus on the present so that we can finish strong in this last week or two of school?
Walking meditation can help. This practice not only relieves stress, but also gives you an opportunity to take a moment break and recenter. By taking five to ten minutes to focus on yourself, you can be more productive and feel less overwhelmed when you resume work.
This type of meditation allows us to be on our feet, and can feel easier and less daunting than sitting down to meditate. It focuses on steps and breaths and lends itself perfectly as a quick break from work and school. Maybe your student is studying for a final and becomes anxious, or they are working on a paper and become frustrated. Maybe you are between meeting calls and are feeling overwhelmed by all that you are expected to get done by the end of the day. A walking meditation allows for a break and a reconnection. Through movement and mindful discipline, you can learn to reduce stress and anxiety.
How to begin:
Find a place: This can be your yard, driveway, kitchen, or a hiking trail. You just need enough space to walk 10 to 15 steps in any direction, and preferably a place you won’t feel observed.
Move: Take 10 to 15 steps in one direction, pause, and take a breath. Then, turn back to walk 10 to 15 steps in the opposite direction, breathing at each end, and repeat. This can also be done in one continuous line.
How to move: Walking meditation is the act of deliberately moving, following your steps with your breath and focus. You should focus your attention on the way that you move your feet with each step: how you lift your foot off the ground, move it slightly forward, and how you set your foot back to the ground, heel first, and then toe. How your weight shifts to that leg as your repeat with the other foot. This can be practiced as slowly or as quickly as you would like, the focus should be on how you move with intention and keep your mind centered on the movement of your breath with each step.
What do do with your hands: Your arms can lay flat to your sides, or you can clasp your hands behind your back – do whatever feels most comfortable.
Focus: Try to focus your attention on things that you might normally take for granted: how your body moves with each step, how the birds sound outside, or the sounds of your house. This can also be how each breath feels.
The wandering mind: Remember this is ok. Just simply try to refocus your attention back on the movement of your walk and your breath.
You can integrate this practice into any part of your day. These are all elements, though at a faster pace, that you can focus on while running, pushing a cart in the grocery store, or walking your dog. By practicing this regularly, either as a quick break from sitting or as a more established practice, you can allow yourself to ease away from the stress of your day, work, and school for a few moments while staying active. Walking meditation doesn’t require you to sit still and think about nothing, but it encourages you to refocus and think about the intentionality of your thoughts and movements. It is a practice in discipline and movement in its core.
You can learn more about this meditation and mindfulness practice here.