The very first time I sat down to meditate was during a mediation clinic run by monks. Padded seating dotted the floor, incense was burning, and I could hear the faint sound of peaceful chimes playing in the background. We all chanted “om” in unison before clasping our hands in front of our hearts to namaste. It was the most amazing experience! I really did feel a sense of nothingness – no stress, no anxiety, just nothing. I was also a college student without the stress of paying a mortgage, climbing a career ladder, and raising kids.
When I try to recreate this feeling at home, I can’t get comfortable, and I am easily distracted by my to-do list or the sound of my neighbors mowing the lawn. When I realized meditation can be done anywhere and not just in a quiet corner, I started to use it daily to help manage my stress levels. My go-to favorite way to meditate is while walking. It helps me release pent up energy from worrying, working and gives me some much-needed time to myself.
Studies show that mediation can boost our immune system, and reduce anxiety. Walking meditations have a lot of benefits, especially for those who have a hard time sitting still.
Meditation isn’t just for communing with a higher spirit, or specifically a religious activity, it’s a chance to focus inward. It is a mindfulness practice used to calm the mind and lower your stress levels and increase overall wellness. The goal is for a fuller connection between your body and your mind. Most people feel pressured to clear their minds from thoughts, or ideas. The goal is simply to not follow those thoughts, just kind of put them away for now and allow your mind to be distracted by what is around you.
WHAT DO I DO WHILE MEDITATING?
Most people think of meditation as a sit-down activity and whenever I suggest meditation, I always hear, “BUT, I CAN’T SIT STILL!” Guess what? Neither can I! Just ask anyone who has ever had a conversation with me. I wiggle in my chair, I stand up to sway, I move around a lot. I talk a mile a minute, and my laugh is loud. I have big energy and my mind is continually racing through creative project ideas and to-do lists. As a busy mom, I rarely get 10 minutes to sit down and focus on myself. That’s why a walking meditation has been a huge part of my life, especially as a parent. And because I have meditated long enough, I easily fall into the habit while cleaning, or running errands.
HOW DO I MEDITATE?
While I am walking, I use all my senses to focus my mind away from stressful thoughts. I listen to the sound of my breath going in through my nose and out of my mouth or I listen to the sounds of nature. I look at the sky and the colorful trees. I take deep breaths to smell the air, or sometimes I apply a favorite essential oil before I start my walk. I feel my heel strike the pavement as I walk to the beat of the song on my playlist. All these things bring my focus to the moment and away from my worries.
If I am walking for meditation, I walk alone. Otherwise, I am a going to chat the entire time and probably about what is stressing me out. We do need to vent at times; however, I’ve noticed for myself that when I vent, I am still holding onto the stressful energy or anger about a situation. When I disconnect from it, and stop thinking about it for a little while, I often find a solution much faster.
Experts will tell you to walk at a slower pace for meditation, but I can’t. Nothing I do is slow. So, I walk at whatever pace feels comfortable and focus on what’s around me.
WHERE TO WALK AND MEDITATE?
I walk right in my neighborhood. I wear my ear buds and sunglasses to signal to other’s I’m in my own zone and not up for chatting. I strive for a minimum of 10 minutes, or at least one lap around the block. Sometimes, I need more time and I will drive to a local walking trail where it is safe to walk alone. Perhaps there is an area you feel the safest, or comfortable walking? And I always let someone know where I am going to be before I leave.
WHEN SHOULD I MEDITATE?
I try to make this a daily practice, first thing in the morning. It helps me get the day started with more positive energy and a balanced mood. But there are times my day doesn’t allow for that, and I will walk in the evening. I take more time on the weekends when my schedule is less packed. Sometimes I’ll go weeks without meditating and I’ll go when I have built up an uncomfortable amount of stress. When I worked outside of the house, I often walked around the block on my lunch hour, or before I got into my car to drive home.
Some tips for getting started:
Decide on a route, or safe location.
Decide on a meditation, music play list or just listening to the sounds around you.
Decide on a time limit, what works best in your day?
Decide on a schedule of how often to practice, and for how long you commit to it before you decide it’s not for you.
Decide on comfortable walking shoes and clothes.
Recognize this does not need to be perfect, and it does not need to look the same as everyone else.
Meditation can feel strange at first, but the more you practice it, the easier it gets. You also do not need to be locked into sitting still or staying in one location. Meditation and mindfulness are about being in this moment and not thinking ahead to the next or the next. As busy parents, juggling so many things at once, our brains can use the break. And for me meditation helps to switch off that constant loop of stress.
What do you think? Would you give walking mediation a try?
Want more from me each week? Sign up for my weekly newsletter. It’s delivered right to your inbox and ready whenever you are. I share freebies, discounts, and good vibes to get you through the messy parts of parenting.