the llama blog
practicing yoga off the mat.
The crisp air, the golden hues, the crunch of leaves below. Fall is the perfect time of the year to start a mindful walking practice. While many people think of meditation as sitting on a cushion with hands in a mudra (hand gesture that seals a specific intention), traditional Buddhist methods recommend four meditation postures: sitting, standing, walking and lying down.
Walking meditations include the same benefits as seated such as focusing the mind, settling the body and creating awareness of our self. Walking lifts your spirits, strengthens It invigorates, and is somewhat easier than just sitting.
The American Heart Association recommends walking for 30 minutes. Why not combine the benefits of exercise and meditation? Many find it’s an easier meditation since the physical act of walking becomes your focus.
Mindful walks are great after meals and before important meetings. In addition to moving the body, walking outdoors reconnects us to nature, which has its own nurturing powers.
Instructions for a mindful walk:
1. Allow yourself at least 10 minutes to walk a day. (30 minutes is ideal even if it’s broken up throughout the day.)
2. In the beginning, choose a short path that you know very well. Knowing your route prevents your mind from wandering about directions and obstacles.
3. Stand up tall and allow your gaze to drop slightly mimicking natural walking.
4. Bring awareness into the feet. They will be the focal point during the walk. Notice the shift in weight from the heel to the ball of the foot as you lift, shift and place the foot on the ground.
5. Using focal words like “left” and “right” as you move each foot, help draw your mind back to the present.
6. Notice any thoughts, feelings and emotions that arise. Do not push them away. Become aware of what is happening then return your focus to your feet.
7. And of course, don’t forget to breathe.
You can train your mind to be present at any time even while walking with your eyes open. It takes practice and patience. Try to incorporate walking into your daily schedule this month.