Walking meditation – for body and mind
By Carol / February 21, 2013 /
The yoga poses Stephanie Renee dos Santos shared on my blog were so popular, I’m delighted to have her back with thoughts on how to combine my favorite exercise – walking – with a process I’ve always hoped to learn – meditation. Thank you, Stephanie, for sharing more of your expertise with us.
* * *
Thank you Carol for having me back to your blog. Today’s guest post is about walking meditation ̶ meditation in action. It is the process of using the experience of walking to focus our minds, developing greater awareness, building concentration, clearing and calming the mind, and regaining a sense of wholeness.
Walking can be invigorating; it can build strength and stamina. Paying attention to the body as you walk allows your writing mind a break and gets your body moving after long hours sitting.
My suggestion for writers is to initially walk vigorously for 45 minutes, getting one’s blood circulating, looking around, and working the cardiovascular system to counter the many hours spent without movement ̶ your legs, hips, and heart will love you for it!
Now continue to walk, taking some deep breaths, inhaling deep into the belly, and then releasing the breaths. Then for 15-20 minutes settle into a walking meditation, by finding a pace that gives you a sense of ease. Generally, I advise walking more slowly than normal, but the pace can vary. Fast walking may bring a greater sense of balance when you are agitated or help you wake up. When your mind is alert and calm, slow walking may feel more natural. Your speed might change during the period of walking meditation. See if you can sense the pace that keeps you most intimate with and attentive to the physical experience of walking. Once you’ve found that pace, let your attention settle into the body ̶ let your body take you for a walk.
Once you feel connected to the body, allow your focus come to your feet and lower legs. In walking meditation, the mindfulness is on the alternating stepping of the feet: feel each step, feel the legs and feet tense as you lift the leg, feel the movement of the leg as it swings through the air, feel the contact of the foot with the ground. There is no “right” experience, just see how the experience feels to you; it can change minute by minute, day by day. Whenever you notice the mind wandering, bring it back to the sensations of the feet walking; look for a sense of the rhythm in your steps, helping maintain continuity of awareness. Breathe naturally as you walk in silence, with your eyes relaxed and soft, not focusing on anything but your steps and your path in front of you.
When one is able to stay present in walking meditation one is developing concentration which in turn helps us write. Walking mediation is an excellent counter balance to long hours sitting writing, teaching us to be present in the body and the moment, and this is when solutions to writing problems present themselves and when creativity is cajoled to flow freely.
The body loves movement and as writers the body will reward us if we pay it some attention, for much of the time we are caught up in our mental worlds, listening to the body as you walk will help you simply enjoy being alive. And this state of contentment can enhance and be brought to our writing projects.
* * *
Stephanie Renée dos Santos is a fiction and freelance writer and yoga instructor. She is currently working on a historical novel set in 18th century Portugal and colonial Brazil. Stephanie leads Writing & Yoga Retreats/Workshops in Brazil and the United States. For more information please visit: www.stephaniereneedossantos.com or email email@example.com or Facebook: Stephanie Renee dos Santos.
Upcoming Workshops in USA: July 13-14, 2013 half-day & full-day, Writing & Yoga Workshop, Bellingham, WA; July 2013 (exact dates to be announced) 3 nights, 2 full-day Writing & Yoga Workshop, Oregon Coast, OR. Visit Stephanie’s blog for workshop details: http://www.stephaniereneedossantos.com/yoga-writing-workshop/
Great post. When I was younger, I was an avid exerciser. Not so much anymore but a good hike in the woods always makes me feel strong and rejuvenated.
Thanks for commenting, Grace. I’ve heard from many sources that walking is sufficient exercise for most of us. It’s what I always come back to.
Grace & Carol- So true on both accounts — I feel my best too when walking in a natural setting and walking is sufficient exercise for most of us…walk on! Regards, Stephanie
Carol, thanks for bring Stephanie to us again. I was once an avid walker but since a spinal fusion a year ago, I’ve not quite gotten back to walking and exercising. Hoping when our Pacific NW weather improves, I’ll be out there stepping up the pace. Exercise does clear the mind!
Sherrey- Yes, once the weather turns, step outside and try 15 minutes, easy back into walking. Body movement of some sort does loosen up the grips of the mind, be in walking, yoga, swimming, etc…Have a wonderful spring! Best, Stephanie
Spring weather does wonders for us all, Sherrey! I hope you’re able to get out and loosen up your back. We picked up nearly a foot of snow last night and it’s still snowing this morning. I’m stepping high over the drifts!