Meditation is a hot topic these days, and for good reason: It can improve your health in super-heroic ways, whether it’s improving your mood and lessening fatigue, or boosting your immunity. But if the thought of sitting still and attempting to clear your mind seems difficult to you, perhaps meditating on the move is more your speed.
Just like seated meditation, walking meditation can help you focus on the present moment. However, instead of closing your eyes and tuning everything out, you focus on the experience of walking and use your senses to take in everything that’s happening in the moment, says Eva Selhub, M.D., author of Your Health Destiny: How to Unlock Your Natural Ability to Overcome Illness, Feel Better, and Live Longer. Here’s how to do it:
4 Simple Steps to Mediate on the Move
Use all 5 senses. As you walk, take note of your personal experience. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel? “You might observe the sensation of your feet touching the ground, or the motion of your arms as they swing, or the breeze on your skin, or the aromas of the trees, or the sound of the leaves,” Selhub says. If your mind starts to drift, bring it back to your senses and what’s happening right here, right now.
Let go and go slow. “As you focus on your experience the stress response is turned down, creating a relaxation response in your body, which is the goal of meditation,” Selhub says. When you feel yourself relax—let it happen. Take your time, and focus on each part of your step—feeling your heel strike, and how your foot rolls onto the ball of your foot. Slowing your process will help you be more mindful of it, and also help you to relax even more deeply.
Step outside. If you have access to nature, you can reap additional benefits by practicing walking meditation outdoors. “Research shows that just being in nature turns down the stress response and reduces stress hormones while improving your mood, energy, and immune system—especially if you do it for more than 20 minutes at a time,” says Selhub.
Wear your fitbit tracker. “You’ll likely find that when you take a mindful walk in nature, you can go for longer periods of time, and feel less boredom or fatigue, so you may go further than you expect,” says Selhub. Wearing a tracker can help you account for miles, steps, and calories, and if you’re wearing a heart-rate enabled tracker, you might also be able to see the results of your meditative state. Your heart rate should remain relatively low, if you’re calm.
Finally, it goes without saying: When you’re taking it all in, and enjoying your steps—be sure to watch where you’re taking them. Walking meditation is about feeling good, so you want to stay that way!
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.