When we walk, our thoughts are usually focused on time and destination, or if we are typically restless, then we could have thousands of related or un-related thoughts drawing our attention elsewhere and soliciting our subscriptions. We are habitually unaware of the act of walking. More than ever before, observing people on cell phones, having conversations via facetime, texting and using other electronic devices while walking, increases the disconnect with the awareness of taking one step at a time.
Walking with intention, just walking, is a transformational practice. When walking is done as a meditation, you may experience lower stress, reduce blood pressure, relieve anxiety and more focus with increased clarity in your life. Just like the breath, walking is often taken for granted and when the act of breathing or walking in the moment, becomes in view, then you become more present to yourself and your immediate environment. You may notice restless mind messaging during your meditative walk, to be expected, the key is to just notice those thoughts “ah…that’s a thought” and bring your attention back to the next step on the ground.
Walking meditatively can unite your body and mind to the earth through the heightened awareness and presence felt in the act of the meditation. The sensitivity of our feet touching the earth, smelling the scents around you and hearing both natural and created noises, all with a sense of reverence, draws us into a level of reality we usually ignore. We become aware of being one with the earth, no longer resisting and alienating ourselves from our true home. Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and walking meditation teacher, suggests that we use phrases, or mantras, during the walking meditation such as: one step saying, “I am here” and the next step, “I am home.” This rhythmic chant enhances your meditation and keeps the restless mind at bay.
Cultivating a walking meditation, especially in the morning, can keep us grounded in our true self with inner peace, while having gratitude for the earth and the Presence permeating all living things.