Become Present by Doing a Walking Meditation


When most people consider meditating, they think of sitting on a floor cushion, cross-legged, palms upward, thoughts erased, as if by magic. In truth, there are many forms of meditation, not just sitting in stillness, and further, the act of meditating is about becoming present, not stopping our thoughts.

One of my favorite types of meditation is walking meditation. I live a few blocks from a running path that leads to a pier. When the weather is nice, I walk down to the pier, and as a mindfulness practice, I use the time to meditate, or become present, meaning, when my thoughts trail off to concerns about the future, judgments about what happened during the day, or anything negative, I bring them back to the present. Instead, I focus on the seaweed floating in the ocean, the way it clings to the rocks, or the shape of the pieces of driftwood piled up near the rails. The beauty of a walking meditation is its simplicity. It's one of the least intimidating types of meditation for people who don't typically meditate. Moreover, not only does it help us to become present, it's beneficial to our health, and it connects us with nature.

One of the tricky parts of traditional meditation is that when we sit in stillness with our eyes closed, we're unsure of what to focus on. Our thoughts trail off, and then we judge ourselves for their wandering, certain that we're just not good at meditating. The key is simple: live in the moment. It can be as easy as noticing the color of leaves, or watching the seagulls as they walk on the sand. Walking meditation provides us with scenery, which can make the process of meditation more approachable. 

Here are some tips to get the most out of doing a walking meditation:

1.Pick a beautiful spot.

Try to walk somewhere in nature. A walking meditation is most effective near mountains, or a body of water, and not as easy to do on a busy avenue with lots of shopping.

2.Expand your perception.

Every time our thoughts go to the small story of our ego (he did this, or why did my child say that?), we can choose to zoom out - literally, we can focus on the grandness of the moment; instead of thinking about what our coworker said, we can pay attention to the spectacular height of a tree, or the luminosity of the waves. Nature has a way of taking us out of our own heads.

3.Reclaim your childlike wonder.

Oftentimes, we miss the details of what's around us because we're consumed by technology, or stuck in our heads. Consider how a child is amazed by everything: a bird flying overhead, or the sound of a bird squawking. We can dwell in childlike wonder if we consciously choose to experience the present moment; walking meditation helps with this.

Incorporating even 15 minutes of walking meditation into our daily routines can benefit us greatly, as our emotional states shift the more present we become. It's as easy as appreciating all the beauty nature has to offer, and it's a habit that helps us to cultivate a greater sense of peace, presence, and mindfulness.