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Healing & Well-Being

Walking As Meditation: Relax Your Mind While You Exercise

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Walking meditation is a mindfulness exercise that combines the physical activity of walking with the focused mindfulness of meditation. 

While you are walking, you focus on a mind-body connection. With each step, you pay attention to your body’s movements and the physical sensations you experience as your feet touch the Earth.

Even the Bible tells us to walk. In Genesis, God teaches us to “arise, walk about the land through its length and breadth; for I will give it to you” (Genesis 13:17).

You can perform a walking meditation in a busy city street, in a forest, on a beach, or even in the privacy of your own home. This is a great form of meditation for people wanting to incorporate exercise and mindfulness in their daily lives.

This article explains how walking meditation works, how to effectively walk mindfully, and the health benefits of this mobile form of meditation.

What is walking meditation?

Walking meditation is one of the simplest ways to combine meditative practices with simple movement. Most of us in our daily lives spend a lot of time walking to and from different destinations, so we have plenty of opportunities to practice this type of meditation.

Walking meditation involves walking at a slow pace. 

For mindful walking, you might walk in a circle or back and forth along a straight line, or you can practice walking meditation over a much longer distance. You can start by breaking each step down into numerous parts or by simply strolling mindfully in a small space.

Your walking meditation should include special attention to your breath, and you can use a mantra to accompany each step.

You can perform a walking meditation in nature, on a walking track, in a beautiful forest, or along a beach. You can also practice walking meditation in the comfort of your own home, strolling up and down a long hallway. 

Man walking on beach barefoot

You can even do a walking meditation along a busy city street.  You may want to drown out city sounds by listening to a meditative prayer or instrumental music as you walk along.

Walking meditation is an awesome way to calm your mind. It only takes 10 minutes a day, and each time you practice it, your mindfulness skills improve, delivering better health benefits. 

Walking is celebrated in scripture as well. God often uses it metaphorically to describe His presence: 

“I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people” (Leviticus 26:12). 

You can choose any piece of scripture as your walking meditation mantra to help keep you in the present moment and focused on God.

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How practice walking meditation

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To perform a walking meditation, you should start by wearing comfortable clothing and solid walking shoes. Then, you need to choose the best location. Find a safe space where you have enough room, and that is relatively quiet and free of distractions.

You start by walking at a steady pace. You might take 10–20 steps along a straight line but walking slower than you usually do. 

Place your feet deliberately on the ground, one foot in front of the other, in a slow and rhythmic fashion. When you get to the end of your path, turn around and retrace your steps using the same slow, deliberate walking pace.

Pay attention to each step. Focus on what it feels like as you lift one foot off the ground and your other foot hits the ground (heel first). Notice how your body shifts weight as your back heel hits the ground, and notice how your toes feel. 

Walking meditation can also help to ground you.

As you walk, pay attention to the smells around you. Focus on your breathing and recite a mantra in time with each step. 

As you continue to practice walking meditation, you'll find that your body will go on auto-pilot. Savor each moment as your body completes this mindful walking practice.

How is walking meditation different from a sitting meditation?

The key difference between walking meditation and seated meditation is movement. Many wellness practitioners will recommend you do a walking meditation session between seated meditation sessions. 

Walking meditation is a part of kinhin meditation, which combines movement and stillness, utilizing periods of walking meditation with long periods of sitting meditation

Kinhin meditation, which is widely practiced in many parts of Buddhism, offers the best of both worlds, switching between movement and rest. 

Woman walking in forest

The meditating Christian may seek to follow God by focusing on God’s grace in meditation. Walking meditation can be a wonderful way to celebrate the beauty of nature and the wonder of God’s world with each step.

Is walking meditation effective?

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The simple act of walking blended into daily meditative practice has enormous health benefits. 

The benefits of meditation that incorporates mindful walking include:

  • An improved awareness about how your body moves. You draw your attention inward as you walk, improving concentration and awareness of your physical surroundings and your mental state.
  • Reduced depression, anxiety, and stress levels. You can also combine your walking meditation with a seated meditation afterward to help you get the best mental health benefits.
  • Improved blood sugar levels and circulation. This is particularly true for Buddhist-based walking meditation because of how it effectively combines stillness with movement.
  • Overall improved well-being.  Walking meditation can have physical benefits such as lower blood pressure, better sleep quality, improved digestion, and better functional fitness levels.
  • Greater mental clarity. The act of walking can also increase and inspire your creativity. Enjoying the sensations of walking can give you more clarity and focus to your thinking, inspiring creative bursts of energy.
  • Improved balance. Research has found that older women particularly benefit from walking meditation, as it improves their balance, ankle awareness, and general coordination.
  • Greater levels of mindfulness and self-awareness. As you practice mindfulness through meditation, you will naturally become better at it.
Walking along a path

Mindful walking is also a great way to raise your energy levels if you’re doing seated work for extended periods. 

Vietnamese meditation guru Thich Nhat Hanh says that as we walk, we should envision that we “print peace, serenity, and happiness on the ground.”  

Make mindful walking a part of your day

The simple practice of walking, when combined with meditation and mindfulness, can produce many benefits for both your physical and mental health.

It can also help you develop a great appreciation for yourself and the world — both of which God has given you. Meditation is a great tool to use to draw closer to Him and ponder on His teachings.

If you want to learn more about how to grow in the love of Christ, download the app — for daily prayer, bedtime Bible stories, and more — on Google Play and the iOS App Store.

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