how to practice mindfulness walking meditation

Did Monday hit anyone else like a train? I had a rough, seemingly endless work day, had a million things to do when I got home, and I was being an absolute stress-fueled MONSTER. Fortunately, I knew exactly what I needed to do to calm down and get back to center. A nice, mindfulness walking meditation at my local nature preserve.

Mindfulness walking meditation is an excellent beginner meditation practice. There are other varieties of walking meditation, but mindfulness walking meditation is a great way to introduce one’s self to the practice.

Mindfulness Walking Meditation

Throughout my grad school journey (which you can read about here), I learned all about meditation and even got to do some powerful group meditations in one of my classes. When I’ve attempted seated meditation on my own, however, I find it to be incredibly difficult to sit still and just be, even with guided meditations. That’s why I was so delighted to learn about mindfulness walking meditation.

I love that meditation is one of those things that is so easy once you realize it isn’t hard. I really struggle with seated meditation because I have trouble quieting my thoughts. The harder I try, the louder they become. But meditation isn’t the absence of thought, necessarily. It’s simply focusing your thoughts. I find that much easier to do when I’m walking.

So how do you actually practice mindfulness walking meditation? It’s simple.

- Find a good place to walk. I am fortunate to have an incredible nature preserve near my house with beautiful trails. They are hardly ever crowded, so my experience is usually very peaceful. This is important, you want to get away from any distracting noise. I personally don’t use headphones for safety reasons, but if you feel comfortable, wear headphones and listen to some focus/meditative music. There are some great playlists on Spotify.

- Simply walk. Don’t be in a hurry. Maintain a natural pace that feels comfortable to you.

- Observe your steps. Notice the way your weight shifts with each step. I like to look down toward the trail and notice some of the beauty nature has to offer. It’s rained so much here, the trails have so many incredible mushrooms these days.

- Observe your body. How do your feet feel? Your ankles? Your legs? Take notice of all the feelings in your body from head to toe. Focus on it.

- I like to practice breathing exercises while I walk. This may not be for everyone, but I find that it leaves me feeling lighter, less stressed, and more grounded. Here are some of my favorites from Dr. Weil. The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise is my go-to. Please chat with your doctor before trying breathing exercises, as they aren’t for everyone.  

- Observe your emotions. Recognize what emotions come up, honor them, and then focus your attention elsewhere, like the ground or your breath.

Remember, meditation, whether it be seated or a mindfulness walking meditation, is a practice. Don’t get so caught up in trying to get it just right. Relax, let go, and amazing things can happen!