When we're outside, we feel rejuvenated –– our energy is restored and we're reminded of the beauty of the world around us. Practicing the art of meditation while walking –– aka meditation walks –– is a great way to exercise mindfulness and recenter yourself.
What exactly is a mindful walking meditation?
Meditation walks are walks taken with the intention of staying present and keeping our minds focused on the present moment. Engaging in a mindful walking meditation has been proven to boost blood circulation, raise energy levels, boost digestion and relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
Tips for Meditation While Walking
When you walk, don't leave it at unplugging from your headphones, or even leaving your phone at home. Make a conscious effort to truly be present. Notice the world around you and the way it interacts with each of your 5 senses. Here are our tips for a guided meditation walk that fully immerses the senses.
Seeing is not the same as noticing. When we practice mindful seeing, we don't simply take in what's around us, we notice it; we understand it; we appreciate it.
On a walk, the sense we're interacting with most is our sight. We're taking in the world around us starting with the path we're walking on. For some, that path may line rows of houses and apartment buildings. For others, that path may trail through a mountain or canyon or along a body of water. Whether the path you follow is what you'd consider scenic or if it's merely the sidewalk lining the block around your house, there's more nature than you might think to notice and appreciate. Look up, not just at the ground. Let your eyes wander.
When seeing mindfully, consider these 4 steps:
Your brain processes sound throughout your entire body. Tuning in to the sounds of nature around you allows those sounds to echo and resonate throughout your entire being – not just your eardrum, providing a deeper sense of connection with nature that flows through your entire body.
The sounds we most easily pay attention to are often those of human invention: cars, lawn mowers, music from a passing car's radio. But when you walk, tune into the sounds of the nature around you: the birds singing, the squirrels climbing the trees, the crickets chirping. These sounds can so quickly become background noise to us –– they become so mundane we hardly even register that we hear them –– but when we consciously tune in to them, we ground ourselves in the present moment.
When you're thinking about taking a meditation walk, taste is probably not a sense you're thinking about. But like any other sense, interacting with your sense of taste can only enrich the experience you're having. The key to engaging with your sense of taste is focusing on what you're eating or drinking, without distractions. Mindful eating means tuning into your body and its needs and truly experiencing the flavors you're tasting.
On a meditation walk, you can engage with your sense of taste by experimenting with temperature. Temperature changes – like holding an ice cube, or a cup of hot tea – are a technique used to reduce distress. On a walk, you can experiment with temperature by bringing a cold bottle of water (or in the winter a warm thermos) with you to refresh you as you walk.
Water is one of the purest connections we have to nature, but it can be easy to forget just how natural it is. Bringing water with you on your meditation walk will keep you hydrated, fueling you as you walk, while also letting you dive deeper into your exploration of the nature around you.
Like taste, touch is a sense you may not directly relate to a meditation walk. But in the same way, interacting with your sense of touch while outside serves to only enrich your experience and deepen your connection to the present moment. Taking the time to physically touch the pieces of nature that are around you –– whether that's dipping your feet in the ocean you're walking beside or touching the trees that line your path –– can help you feel far more connected to the nature you're near.
One great technique to try is earthing. The practice of grounding or "earthing" aka walking barefoot, is connected to pain relief, deeper sleep cycles and improved immunity.
Earthing connects our bodies back to nature. Our body becomes a sponge, absorbing negatively charged electrons from the ground below us and helping recharge and reset us.
On a meditation walk, try safely walking barefoot – for part or all of the walk, depending on your location – and letting your skin make contact with the Earth. Whether you're on grass, sand or dirt, making contact with the ground below you is proven to benefit your body.
The way our brain processes smell is intricately connected to how it processes memory. The two are located nearby in the brain, making it so that our sense of smell has the unique ability to bring about memories.
Our sense of smell can be one of the senses we most easily forget to pay attention to. When you're outside, notice the scents around you. There's a reason why people say, "stop and smell the roses." Noticing the nature around you and taking the time to appreciate its beauty –– to breathe it in, literally –– provides a moment of mindfulness amongst a series of busier moments. It's not often we pause and smell the flowers we may walk by every day. But it should be.
That's all for now. Have an inspired week ahead :)
P.S. Any feedback or thoughts you have to share would mean the world to us :). Feel free to reply and share! If this you've been forwarded this edition of The Weekly Circle, don't miss the next one!