If you’ve looked up how to meditate in the past, you’ve probably come across plenty of instructions for sitting still, closing your eyes, perhaps lighting a candle or two, and settling into a serene space. Sounds familiar right?
But who says all meditations have to mean closed eyes and stillness?
In fact, you can get an amazing meditation that will lower stress and improve your emotional health while on your daily walk! (And no, your eyes won’t be shut — before anyone gets the wrong idea! Safety first.)
If you’re struggling to get into a groove with traditional meditation, or just want to shake things up now and again, this might be just the thing for you. Wondering how to meditate while walking? Let’s dive in!
These Mental Health Benefits of Walking Outdoors Are Hard to Ignore
Before we get into the hows of meditating while walking, we’d be remiss not to mention the why.
You’ve probably already experienced first-hand the insanely calming effect of a good nature walk. After all, going on a nice long walk is a go-to for many of us when feeling stressed or otherwise down.
Outdoor walks can directly help reduce our anxiety and stress levels (thanks to the releasing of the “feel good” hormones serotonin and dopamine.) In fact, within five minutes, these anti-anxiety effects start to kick in!
Getting out into the outdoors and getting natural sunlight can improve our sleep too by helping to maintain our body’s natural circadian rhythm, which can get thrown off if we’re spending all our time indoors.
How to Meditate While on Your Daily Walk
Talk about two birds with one stone! We have to admit, the practical side of us loves this two-in-one idea for purely logistical reasons. We’re always looking for ways to combine tasks like listening to a podcast while doing our makeup, so if we can get in our walk and daily meditation at the same time, sign us up!
Another reason to love walking meditations is if you don’t have a quiet or serene space in your home to do a seated meditation, or if that style just doesn’t resonate with you!
Also – whether you’re in the city or country, taking an hour hike or a 10-minute jaunt down the street, these concepts work just the same!
Here’s a 5-step checklist for how to meditate while walking!
#1 Set an Intention First
If you’re one of those people whose mind is going a million miles a minute, especially when you try to quiet it during a meditation, setting an intention before you lace up your sneakers can help.
It can be as simple as finding peace, reminding yourself you’re safe, finding gratitude for the day, or as specific as calming your system before that Zoom conference.
#2 Choose a Location That Allows You To Walk in a Straight Line (For At Least a Block, Preferably)
City or country, hilly or flat, paved or grassy, the details of where you’re walking don’t really matter, but it will be better if your chosen route allows you to walk in a straight-ish line for at least 15 or so paces. If you’re stuck inside and can only walk the length of your hall, this totally still works!
You can continue on if your location allows it, or at the end of each block, street, or hallway, turn around and retrace your steps. The goal here is not covering terrain, but mindfully noticing it.
#3 Practice Mindfulness of the Body, Surroundings, and Sensations (You can Focus on One Per Street or Block)
Think back to your last walk. Were you talking on the phone, scrolling, thinking of to-dos, or otherwise not focused on the actual walking at all? Us too!
On your meditating walk, focus on the specific feelings of each foot leaving the pavement and being placed down again.
Observe your weight on the ground and your stride. Notice your arms, back, and posture. Feel the wind or smell the smells around you.
You can choose to focus on just one element at a time and switch to another on each block or street — however you’d like to divide up your focus.
#4 Use a Guided Track
A helpful tip for those struggling how to meditate? Try Using a guided audio!
Many find a guided meditation super helpful as a way to stay “on track” (if you will), and prevent yourself from mentally crafting a grocery list for five minutes. There are even specific tracks designed to be used while walking.
#5 Appreciate the Beauty Around You
It doesn’t matter if you’re walking on a city street or down your own hallway or in the most scenic of trails — there’s always something to appreciate around you. After you finish focusing on each deliberate step and noticing the sensations in your body, shift to purposely looking for small examples of beauty.
That might be the trees overhead, the garden you passed, a bird you heard, or if you’re in your own home, decor or items that bring you comfort.
Let Us Know How You Enjoy Your Walking Meditation!
A daily brisk walk comes with a ton of benefits, but turning that walk into a walking meditation takes things to a whole new level.
So, get outside and give walking meditation a try — it may be exactly what you need to feel a bit more centered, a little less stressed, and hey, you may even find you sleep better!
Let us know how you work it into your overall self-care routine.