It's common knowledge that walking has numerous health benefits for your body. It burns fat and calories, enhances blood flow throughout your system, and improves your cardiovascular fitness. What you may not know, however, is that incorporating meditation into your walking routine can boost the benefits considerably by providing a spiritual and mental payoff.
Oftentimes, when people take up walking, they do so because it's an easy way to exercise that is low impact and is easy to learn. You don't need special equipment or even a lot of time. All you have to do is put one foot in front of the other and walk your way toward better health.
But when you team up walking with meditation, also called mindful walking, you multiply the positive results and maximize your investment of time.
Walking meditation comes from the art of Ayatana; Ayatana is a Buddhist concept whereby you stay continually in touch with your senses. You don't walk mindlessly, but focus on every step and sensation. You don't have to increase your speed and even may walk a lot more slowly than usual at first until you are fully comfortable with meditating while you walk.
As you concentrate on your steps, focus mentally on the heaviness or lightness of your feet as they leave the pavement and then hit the ground after each stride. As you practice mindful walking, you need to concentrate on the experience and not let your thoughts wander off to other activities and worries. Focus on the process, and take note of the details involved in moving each foot in turn.
Oftentimes, traditional meditation has you sitting in a room with your eyes closed so that you can concentrate on mental clarity. However, with walking meditation, you need to see where you're going. This means that you absorb your outside environment and process it with the mental clarity brought on by meditation.
The ideal surroundings for walking meditation are somewhere peaceful and appealing. Your neighborhood park is good; road construction is bad. Your environment should be inviting enough that time passes quickly and pleasantly. You should aim to walk for a minimum of 20 minutes each time.
When you start to walk, use good posture and keep your arms at your sides. Focus on a point about 3 to 6 feet in front of you as you walk.
Of course, walking will help your body and your health in many ways. It provides more serotonin to improve your mood as well. If you add meditation to your walk, your exercise program will become even more powerful and further improve your mind as well as your body.