As a writer, I worked from home before the COVID-19 pandemic, at my desk or laptop, inevitably flanked by snoozing kitties. Sometimes when rapt in work, in the comfort of home, I neglect standing, stretching, hydrating, and taking pause. I sometimes forget to eat—or mindlessly munch too much!
When I'm more mindful, I take a walk. If chores are involved, I'm on a mission, walking briskly to up the aerobic ante as well as check more things off my list. (Long ago I was gently accused of stomping. It made me self-conscious at the time, rightly so.) But when the time is opportune, I love hitting reset with a walking meditation.
Walking meditation takes no special training. The magic? It awakens blood flow, rejuvenates energy, and helps to reconnect your mind-body, setting the tone for mindfulness to take hold—and the pace for calmness ahead.
You don't need to be on retreat to hit reset and enjoy the benefits of walking meditation—just mindful of where you choose to go, particularly with regard to social distancing. Whether practicing solo or with others, in walking meditation, maintaining space has always been recommended for keeping inner and outer awareness, making it a most beneficial experience. If nature is accessible, go to a setting where you can relish its gifts. If you're in a more urban atmosphere, stay aware of those around you while tuning into the hum, enjoying the good vibes wherever you find yourself.
Carve out time. Go for a walk and notice the beauty that mama gaia—mother earth—so generously provides. Smell the freshness in the air. Listen for sounds of nature that accompany you—birdsong, the breeze through leaves, the earth underfoot, or pavement—a plane in the sky, the urban hum. Walking Meditation is an amazing way to experience the energy of the outdoors while reconnecting to your inner light, your true self. You may even find it more satisfying than seated meditation.
Walk slowly. Take small, balanced footsteps to promote feeling at ease. Be mindful of the ebb and flow of your breath, without trying to control it—just observe. Let it be natural, yet full. Let your arms hang comfortably or hold your hands, fingers woven at your belly or behind you. Keep a soft gaze. You don't need to focus on anything special. Simply be aware of your surroundings. And don't rush.
Thich Nhat Hanh often instructs to be aware of how you are “touching the ground.” Offer our precious earth peace and love with your steps. Be aware of how the earth supports you. As you feel the ground beneath your feet, trust it will hold you up. Then let go more, especially in your shoulders.
PS: Kindly wear a mask.
Jocelyn Krasner is a writer, and a teacher of yoga and meditation.