The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
-Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation is not just about sitting in silence. It is about allowing yourself to become one with the moment.
When you are meditating, you are not in the past, in the future, or lost in your thoughts; you are front and center in the moment, allowing your energy to mix with the energy of now.
Imagine your entire being as a ball of energy. Every time you think about something, reflect on something, or get lost in thoughts of yesterday or tomorrow, your energy becomes pulled in many directions. This neat ball of energy that you are becomes stretched, leaky, and scattered.
But if you bring all of your energy together by focusing on the present, on the here and the now, you enter into your truest power and your strongest form, and from this place, the best solutions and greatest inspirations can be found.
Allowing yourself to become one with the moment is also highly relaxing and has infinite benefits for your mind, body, and soul.
Many people feel that to meditate you have to sit in silence with a clear mind. While this is one way to meditate, it is not the only way to meditate.
While meditation can be brought into all aspects of your life, another great practice is a Walking Meditation.
Walking Meditation requires you become one with the moment but also one with the Earth.
As you place each foot on the ground, you are doing so consciously and with love. As you walk, you are becoming an observer to your surroundings and taking in whatever each moment brings your way.
Very often when we walk, our mind is elsewhere. We are anxious about arriving at our destination, or we think about 100 different things that take us out of the present moment.
In a Walking Meditation, the task is to become completely present. To let go of all thoughts and to simply allow your energy to merge with the nature around you.
As you take each step, you are allowing yourself to observe the sights and smells around you. You are allowing yourself to slow down and to see and feel what is really in front of you.
This evokes a sense of compassion and connection, not just with yourself but with the oneness around you.
The Buddhist monk and a practitioner of walking meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh says-
“You can take a step and touch the earth in such a way that you establish yourself in the present moment; you will arrive in the here and the now. You don’t need to make any effort at all. Your foot touches the earth mindfully, and you arrive firmly in the here and the now. And suddenly you are free—free from all projects, all worries, all expectations. You are fully present, fully alive, and you are touching the earth.”
By walking in this way, it creates a freedom, a peace, and a calmness that can allow you to be more productive, more creative, and more aligned when you have to step back into the real world.
If you would like to try a Walking Meditation, here is how to start:
For best results, it is recommended to do this daily for at least 10-20 minutes. Feel free to also bring your furry friends along with you!
1.) Start by picking a route, somewhere out in nature works best but if you have to do city walking that is fine too. As you get more comfortable with the practice, you can also just walk freely and where your heart wants to take you, but to start, having a route can help.
2.) As you place your first foot on the ground, say a quiet “thank you” to yourself, and begin walking. As you walk, try to just observe the sights, smells, and sensations around you. Really look, really smell, really feel in to what is in front of you.
3.) If you notice any thoughts creeping in, switch your focus to the things that stand out to you, such as street signs, flowers, birds and so on. If you see something that catches your eye, allow yourself to look at it. Don’t pass judgment or get lost in your thoughts about it, just observe.
4.) As you walk like this, you will start to become more mindful of your body and your breathing. If you feel any tension in your body just be gentle with yourself and try to soften into it using your breath. Try to breathe deeply and take nice long exhales.
5.) When you reach your destination and as you take your final step, say a closing “thank you” quietly to yourself again.
Remember the idea is to make this effortless, so while you can take all these steps into consideration, the real art with this is just allowing yourself to be free in the moment.
A Walking Meditation is a great alternative to a regular seated meditation and is also a great way to clear your mind when you are feeling restless or agitated. Give it a try and see if it works for you!
“Our hurried steps print anxiety and sorrow on the Earth. If we can take one step in peace, we can take two, three, four, and then five steps for the peace and happiness of humankind.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
This article was inspired by my own walking meditation practice and the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. He has written a beautiful article on his approach to walking meditation which you can read here.
7 Alternatives to Sitting Meditation