Walking meditation | Health benefits | How to practice walking meditation

Dr. Brahmanand Nayak

Meditation can be done anywhere and at any time as long as you can practice mindfulness. Meditation can be done in the traditional way where you need a serene and quiet place to sit or in a modern way while sitting at the desk, doing the dishes or even taking a walk. 

Walking meditation is as beneficial as the seated meditation as it is more than just strolling about. While walking, you need to train your mind to be calm, to be aware of your body, etc. While walking, our eyes are open and our mind and body are rooted in the present, thinking about peace, serenity and happiness. Walking meditation will help you to feel more grounded, balanced, and serene. It will also help you to develop an awareness of your surroundings, body, and thoughts.

Benefits of meditative walking

Improves wellbeing

It is a well-known fact thatwalking amidstnature, like in a park or garden, enhances overall well being, and helps you feel more energised. It also relaxes the mind, body and spirit.

Boosts blood flow

The practice of walking boosts the flow of blood to the whole body, especially to the legs. Walking meditation is, therefore, very beneficial for people who sit for long hours. This technique of walking helps to reduce feelings of laziness by boosting energy. 

Improves digestion

If you do walking meditation after eating your meals, it is a good way to boost digestion, particularly if you feel heavy or full. Walking helps the food to move through your digestive tract and prevent the accumulation of undigested food. It also prevents constipation.

Reduces depression

It is found that walking meditation not only boosts health but also mood. It is significantly useful for people who are ageing as it is important for them to stay active. As regular exercise helps to boost fitness levels and improves mood, walking meditation is known to have significantly alleviated depression, especially among older adults. A 2014 study on older people showed fewer symptoms of depression after they practised walking meditations three times a week for 12 weeks. They also lowered their blood pressure.

Improves blood sugar levels and circulation

A 2016 study concluded that walking meditation helps in lowering blood sugar levels and boosts circulation in people with type 2 diabetes.

Reduces anxiety

If you are looking to lower your stress and anxiety levels, you may start practising walking meditation. A 2017 study on young people found that walking is more effective in reducing symptoms of stress and anxiety when combined with meditation. The participants who showed significant changes either meditated before walking or walked before meditating. On the other hand, the group of people who only walked didn’t show as great improvements as the first group. 

Enhances balance

A 2019 study on older women found that walking meditation encourages better balance and coordination including good ankle awareness. The practice boosts awareness of the leg and ankle movements as well.

Improves sleep quality

A2019 study found that regular moderate exercise improves sleep quality. Walking was also found to help improve flexibility and reduce muscle tension, thereby inducing good sleep.

Makes you more focused

Practising mindfulness during walking meditation gives more clarity and focus to your thought patterns, thereby making you more creative. A 2015 study found a link between mindfulness and creativity. 

How to practice walking meditation

  • Find a quiet and serene place to walk. Maybe a lane that will allow you to walk back and forth for 10-15 paces. You can practice walking meditation indoors also. 
  • After taking 10-15 steps stop and breathe for as long as you want. When you are ready, start walking back in the opposite direction. Pause and breathe again. When you are ready, turn and walk again.
  • During walking meditation, you need to think about and do a series of things that you normally do automatically. For example, try to notice the lifting of one foot; then the moving of the foot a bit forward from where you were standing; the placing of the foot on the floor; and shifting of the weight of the body onto the forward leg as you lift the back heel. Basically, you are paying attention to every step you take.
  • You can walk at any speed, but to be mindful, you need to walk slowly, involving every small step you take. 
  • You can either clasp your hands behind your back or in front of you. You can also let them hang at your side.
  • As you walk, try to focus your attention on the sensations that you would normally take for granted. Focus on the breath coming in and out of your nose; the movement of each foot; how your head is balanced on your neck and shoulders; the different sounds of the movements of your body, etc.

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