Walking is a wonderfully gentle form of exercise that takes you out into nature and fresh air. Meditation is a soothing way to slow down and hit pause on your thoughts. Combining the two is a great way to get yourself out of your head by focusing on the present moment.
It's a common misconception that meditation has to happen on a mat. It can happen like that of course, but it can happen in other ways too.
Like while you are walking.
Going on a walking meditation is a good option for days when you're not in the mood to sit still but you still want to meditate. It can also be a good option when it's a beautiful day out.
The very notion of focusing on taking a step, then another and another slows the mind down. As does touching the bark of a tree, smelling the flowers, watching a butterfly, hearing the leaves crunch underfoot, breathing in the fresh crisp air, etc.
It's the observation of details around you and homing in on those details that slows the mind down.
Activate your senses as you walk and you'll create space between your thoughts
The sense of relief that comes from walking meditating can be refreshing. Especially if your mind has been wandering while on the mat.
If we let it, the beauty of nature can be captivating. So captivating that we crowd out all other thoughts. And in that space of the walk, we are fully present, fully mindful.
I like to say you are consciously letting in the sights, sounds and smells around you.
Your walking meditation doesn't have to be in a great hiking spot or a national park. It can be in your local park or your garden. Basically, anywhere with a bit of greenery where you can walk around.
Personally, I like to rub my fingers on the rosemary in our garden and listen to the wind in the leaves.
Finding things to focus on occupies your mind enough to quieten your thoughts.
You might find yourself feeling peaceful afterwards. And through that feeling of peace, you might be inspired to see a situation differently or think about something differently.
You might also find yourself wanting to go on another walk the next day and perhaps turn it into a daily or weekly habit.
I like to think of my meditative walks as a moment in time to come back to myself.
I'm always reminded of a quote by Mary Davis:
"A walk in nature walks the soul back home"
That state of coming back to myself clears my mind and allows me to come back to me, without my thoughts buzzing.
It's a feeling that I sometimes forget and am quickly reminded of on my next walk.
The space, the gentleness, the freedom takes me out of thinking and into feeling again.
The smile on my face afterwards is proof alone that meditative walks do me good. Even in the rain!
However you choose to meditate, remind yourself that it's about experimentation and progress.
Some days aren't good days for meditating so if you find your mind straying, that's okay. You can always try again tomorrow.