A healthy human comprises a healthy body and a sound heart. By heart, one doesn’t mean only the physical heart but the spiritual heart as well. It is no secret that keeping your diet in check and exercising can help your body stay healthy and fit. But just as for your body, your mind also needs some kind of regular exercise too if it is to stay in a healthy condition. Often the spiritual benefits of exercise are overlooked. Meditation is a common exercise for improving your mental health. But what if you can get the benefits of meditation and exercise at the same time? Fortunately, there is an easy method that can help you with that and it’s walking meditation.
So, what is walking meditation and how can it help? Let’s take a look.
What is walking meditation?
Walking meditation is a simple Buddhist practice also referred to as ‘kinhin’ in the Buddhist terms.It is a form of practice that is designed to bring body and mind into sync when we’re in motion. Just like regular meditation, it’s purpose is to bring about awareness, connectedness, and peace while getting in sync with your body. Walking meditation is as simple to practice as its name implies. You can do it with regular meditation in which you first meditate in a still position and then start to shift to a walking position or you can simply do walking meditation on its own. It might seem simple, but the benefits of meditation combined with walking can outweigh other forms of stationary meditations you usually perform.
How to practice walking meditation?
Here are some steps and techniques which you can follow to effectively perform walking meditation.
1. Choose a comfortable location.
The prime function of meditation is to Focus on the heart, mind, and soul and to reflect on oneself. This objective cannot be achieved if one is meditating in a crowded and clamorous location. So I always chose a hushed location to meditate. Make sure there are no distractions and that you can focus on your walking as much as you can. However, this particular type of meditation not only requires a silent spot but also needs a spacious site, where one can walk and move without any interruption.
Thus, practicing walking meditation spots like the roof of one’s house, terrace, and a quiet park is recommended where you can easily walk without any physical or mental interference.
One should select a path without any disruption and start walking on it at a slow pace, such that the focus should be on the heart and soul. Walking at a faster tempo may distract the mind from the activity at hand and you might start to feel fatigued.
So, try to meditate in a calm and slow manner. If you start to a brisk walk, this will deteriorate your meditative efforts and you will not be able to ripe the full benefits of walking meditation.
3. The placement of your hands.
A person must do everything in his might to avoid any type of diversion and hindrance while meditation and focus entirely on one’s thoughts and the sensations you feel in your body as you walk. To do that it is advised to keep the hands behind the back. This seems more comfortable and facile as you won’t be unnecessarily distracted by the movement of your hands.
But if someone does not feel pleasant and comfortable while keeping the hands behind the back they can keep the hands hanging on the sides or at the front as well.
4. Thoughts and Attention
As mentioned above, the actual objective of meditation is self-betterment, self-reflection, peace, and to attain a sound heart. So it is of pivotal importance that one must keep his thoughts in check. The attention should be towards the quality of thoughts you are having and how certain thinking patterns affect you.
One might not be wholly able to concentrate and pay undivided attention to the thoughts they are having and maybe diverted and distracted by all the movement and walking. This is okay and perfectly natural. When you note that your mind is wandering, simply just try to focus again on the movement of your body. In usual meditation you focus on your breath, in walking meditation, you focus on your movement, and when you get distracted by thoughts, you simply acknowledge them and bring your focus back to your walking.
Your vision also plays an important role in meditation. Usually, in stationary meditation, it is advisable to close your eyes as it helps you focus more. If you have a safe path without hindrance, you can even walk with your eyes closed. When the eyes are shut it is quite easy to concentrate and focus. However, a path without hindrance must be chosen so that the locomotion with shut eyes may be possible. But, if one such path is not available, you can also do walking meditation with eyes open but it is not advisable.
Small steps must be taken to prevent exhaustion. When the body is fatigued the mind finds it difficult to pay undivided attention to anything, and meditation is a game of concentration, focus, and attention. Taking small steps ensures that the toll on the physical body is the minimum while the mind and soul are in full action.
It is advised that this variation of meditation must be
practiced for not more than 10-15 mins a day. If done for a long time there is a fear of inconsistency.
Often the reason why people don’t benefit from meditation is that they do not do it long enough to harness the full benefits. Consistency is key. Even 10-15 minutes of walking meditation will help you a lot, but you have to do it every day for at least a month to start experiencing the benefits.
Benefits of Walking Meditation
Walking meditation helps both the body and mind. Here are some benefits of walking meditation that can change your life for the better.
The physical benefits of walking meditation are as follows:
1. Blood flow
Walking for 10-15 mins a day has proven to increase the blood flow throughout the body. The entire body and the legs, in particular, remain very active. The muscle and mind connection improves greatly.
2. Improved Digestion
Humans like every other animal have to digest food. And what better way to do that than some physical exercise. It
is recommended by doctors to walk for 10-20 minutes at night after dinner for improved digestion.
3. Blood starch/sugar levels
A study held in 2016 has confirmed that Buddhist style walking meditation has an optimistic and beneficial effect on blood starch/sugar levels. And proves quite positive to improve type 2 diabetes.
4. Improved sleep
Mild to moderate exercise or walking for 10-20 minutes has a positive effect on sleep. When muscles are sore from walking, the body wants the muscle tissues to recover as soon as possible. And so the body wants to go into a state of rest/sleep to recover, which helps a person improve his sleep.
5. Healthy habit:
Meditating while walking makes exercise enjoyable. And this is a very healthy habit. The body and the mind remain fresh and sound. A man may go on to live a prosperous while abiding by such healthy and productive habits.
The spiritual/ physiological benefits are as follows:
1. Reduces anxiety and depression
The biggest benefit of meditation and why people mostly do it is its benefits for mental health. Often, there is a rapid decrease in anxiety and depression in people who practiced meditation, particularly walking meditation.
During meditation, the heart is the focus and when the heart, soul, and mind are at rest and peace then mental and social
issues like anxiety and depression will be goners. It also promotes happiness and it is common for Buddhists and monks who practice meditation to be significantly happier than people who don’t.
Our physical body needs a medical checkup now and then, likewise, the heart requires that its rust be removed and what better way to do that than meditation. When the heart is sound and fresh one thrives and leaps towards self-improvement and becomes more productive and creative.
3. Productivity and creativity
While walking in a garden or on the roof of the house, staring at the stars in the sky and meditating at the same time one starts to get more creative with the ideas and thoughts in the mind and more productive in daily life. This may also help people to improve their performance at work.
Walking meditation is an easy to use yet highly effective technique that can help calm both your body and mind. Setting a proper routine for daily walking meditation sessions can help you not only improve your physical health but also increase your happiness and work as a daily stress-relieving agent and keep anxiety and several other psychological issues at bay.