Whether you regularly practice yoga or try it from time to time, chances are you may have heard of meditation. You may have even tried it. Or, maybe you haven’t.
My first exposure to mediation was within my yoga teacher training (it is part of the eight limbs of yoga). Before that, personally, I’d never attempted it. Why? Well, I wasn’t ever shown, told how to do it, or really encouraged. To add to that, I didn’t understand it, didn’t know how to do it, never really thought about it, and essentially had misconceptions about it.
With regards to my situation, I don’t believe I was without the company of others. If you think about it, from an American perspective, meditation isn’t something that is typically brought up. It hasn’t been until fairly recently that mediation as well as yoga have been suggested for people to try. The good news is that both are now being encouraged and recognized as healthy practices.
As I’ve mentioned, the first time I explored mediation; I was in yoga teacher training and the instructor had us comfortably sit quietly in a dimly lit room. To prepare, we closed our eyes and repeated a mantra over and over. First, it was out loud and then gradually we silenced but were supposed to repeat the mantra in our minds.
Thinking back to that first time, I remember feeling that the silence seemed forever, I had monkey mind, and I kept getting distracted by little things. For instance, I heard the mechanical sounds in the room. I also tried to ignore my itching leg and I kept having weird thoughts that wouldn’t go away. When it was all done, we sat in a circle and shared our experiences. I didn’t have the “aha” moment others seemed to have had. All in all, I was frustrated because I felt I didn’t do it right or maybe I just truly at that time didn’t get it.
This was a few years ago. Since then, I’ve revisited “seated mediation” as part of my continuing teacher training and personal yoga practice at various studios I regularly attend. These experiences have all been guided by another person and all those times, I was thankful I was guided into the experience as I’m still working on perfecting it.
Maybe you can relate with a “been there, done that” or maybe you are experiencing this right now. Or maybe you have never ever tried to meditate and want to try it.
As far as meditation practice goes, I’m still in the exploration stage and as such decided to write about it.
Since meditation has numerous benefits, I really want to incorporate it in my life. It promotes relaxation and has numerous health benefits such as lower blood pressure, stress, and anxiety. It can also help with depression. The benefits also extend past health issues as meditation can be a strategy to clear the mind and to increase concentration which can be rewarding in other areas of life such as one’s career!
There are essentially two approaches to meditation: Passive and Active. Seated Meditation is an example of the passive approach whereas “Walking Meditation” is an example of the active approach. It is the walking approach where I felt the most comfortable, successful, enjoyed the benefits, and right now the technique I use the most.
So if you are still struggling with meditation, maybe try a “Walking Meditation.” I’ll explain the technique I learned and currently use. (The first time I experienced a walking meditation, a teacher trainer showed our class, I had my “aha,” and I really enjoyed it).
WALKING MEDITATION GUIDE:
1. Purchase a notebook or journal and have a pen.
– – Bring this with you to your walk so it will be readily available when you finish. You’ll want to capture the richness of your experience when you finish.
2. Choose a location.
– – Great places to consider might be a park or a trail; essentially any pleasant outdoor location that is a way from the hustle and bustle of day to day life.
– – You want a peaceful place so external distractions are minimized.
3. Make an appointment for the Walking Meditation.
– – Give yourself at least 20 dedicated minutes for your walking meditation.
– – Do not multitask!
a. This means no cell phones, i.e. no texting and walking (leave the phone in the car and put it on airplane mode so you won’t be distracted when you come back).
b. Don’t consider this exercise. You aren’t doing this for the calorie burn.
c. If you do this with friends, don’t have a conversation. Just walk amongst each other in silence.
d. Overall, this step just might be the hardest part of the whole experience since that is how we live our day to day lives.
4. If your mind wanders off and visits your “to do list,” refocus on the walk and allow yourself to enjoy the present moment.
– – Focus on your experience and the journey. Don’t think about the destination.
– – How?
a. Slow down your walking pace! To start, notice the steady rhythm of your steps…Left, Right, Left…, notice how the foot hits the ground and what it feels like. (This will help with a wandering mind and create a meditative state. Revisit your pace every time your mind wanders).
b. Bring awareness to how your body internally feels. Overall, how does it feel? Is it relaxed or stiff? What is your posture like?
c. Using your senses, notice the environment.
– – – Sight: If you see something, see it, but don’t let it distract you. For instance, observing a bunny race across a field, another person, a sign, stillness…
– – – Sound: Again don’t focus too hard. Instead, notice the surrounding sounds such as the wind blowing throw the trees, the birds, and any background noises.
– – – Smell: Notice the smells as they occur throughout your walk. They might be pleasant. For instance, do you smell the grass, a pine tree, flowers, the smell of rain… Maybe there is an unpleasant smell too. Does the aroma trigger a memory or thought?
– – – Tactile: Notice how the sun or breeze feels against your skin. Maybe trace your hand along the tree trunk or feel a leaf.
5. That’s it, just experience it!
6. Journal. Immediately after your meditation walk, capture your experience. Write down whatever comes to mind. Once you are satisfied with your journaling, if you like you can share it with others.
So as you can see, a walking meditation really isn’t hard. If you pursue it, you’ll find yourself in a deep state of relaxation and your mind will be peaceful. Do it as often as you’d like. It is a wonderful experience. I often pursue it when I hike through the mountains here in Colorado.
Enjoy your Walking Meditation,