Readers, please enjoy this guest blog post by Jilly Shipway, author of Yoga Through the Year and the forthcoming Yoga by the Stars (December 2020, and available for pre-order in May!).
During the uncertainty of the current COVID-19 crisis, many of us are looking for ways to support our spiritual and mental health, alongside safeguarding our physical wellbeing. Walking Meditation is one of the best ways I know to relieve stress and calm an anxious mind. It’s ideally suited for those times when you want to meditate but don’t want to spend more time sitting still. It’s also a way of getting some gentle exercise. Many people find it’s a way of freeing up their ideas and of magically finding creative solutions to difficult problems.
At times of uncertainty, when we feel insecure, our overactive mind unrelentingly turns problems over and over, trying to resolve them, and our energy tends to get stuck in our head. This heady energy makes us disassociate from our body, making us feel stuck and disconnected from the flow of life. Walking Meditation is the perfect antidote to this as it brings our awareness back down from the head, into our body, and to the feet, and in doing so grounds us. Once we feel grounded, we regain clarity, we’re more able to cope with challenges, and life is flowing again.
The beauty of Walking Meditation is that it can be done anywhere, anytime, and it’s very simple to learn. It can be done indoors or outdoors. If you are quarantined at home it can be done around the house, or in the garden, if you have one.
How to Do Walking Meditation
First, decide where you are going to walk. If you are walking outside be aware of hazards and keep yourself safe. If you are at home make sure you have a clear space to walk in, either back and forth, or in a circle, as suits you. If you wish you can set a timer for between 3 and 10 minutes. Here are three simple steps to get you started:
- Walk naturally but slow the pace down so that you can observe what it feels like to be someone walking. Notice any bodily sensations associated with the act of walking. Be particularly aware of your feet and feel the support of the earth beneath you.
- As you walk be aware of the natural flow of your breath.
- If your mind is overactive, then give it a focus by silently saying “lifting” each time you lift your foot, and “placing” each time your foot touches the ground. Whenever your mind wanders off just gently bring it back to repeating “lifting” and “placing” and observing yourself walking.
At the end of the meditation take a moment to observe how you are feeling now. Resolve to take this more spacious open awareness into the next thing that you do today.
Our thanks to Jilly for her guest post! For more from Jilly Shipway, read her article, “7 Ways to Create a Balanced Life with Yoga and Seasonal Awareness.”