Whenever we are in the midst of a changing season, I love to get outdoors and go for a long walk. Without conscious intention, my journey quickly turns into a walking meditation. As I walk and observe the nature around me, it fills me with a deep sense of connection with myself and nature. Each observable step reminds me of who I am and the connection I have (and the one we all have) with Mother Earth. In many ways, like my yoga practice, walking and communing with nature feels like a home coming.
What is Walking Meditation?
A walking meditation is a simple, mindful practice. It involves focusing your attention on the natural experience of moving your body step-by-step. While you walk, all you have to do is bring your consciousness to your body such as focusing on the lifting of your leg and planting of your foot moment by moment. It is one of my favourite ways to move and practice mindfulness. I personally find that it is easiest for me to practice in nature because I am more mindful of not disrupting or hurting the environment with my footsteps.
When I practice walking meditation, my pace is slower and quiet. There is no urgent need to hurry or speed up because I have no specific destination in mind. Instead, my intention is nourishment through simple embodied awareness and hopeful curiosity that I’ll stumble on something hallowed and miraculous like the sweet fragrance of meadow blossoms and buzzing bees collecting pollen. When I slow and soften my steps showing reverence for the natural world, it brings my attention to the present. And when I am present, I observe and feel our sacred Mother and it reminds me of how important connection with HER really is and what happens in my body when I am in her kindred spaces.
When I walk mindfully within nature, my body, mind and spirit feel united. I feel grounded and supported. My energy shifts like the seasons and any heaviness that I carry, retreats and my body softens and yields to the Earth with each step. My racing mind calms and its mindless rants dissolve into the air. And my spirit is fed and satisfied from the connection to life and nature herself.
We Are Born to Connect with Nature
It’s through our mindful attention during a walking meditation, that we sense into ourselves and more importantly into our body. Too often, we live the majority of time outside ourselves and our bodies. But the only way to truly experience life, is to be in our bodies; to be mindful and present in the moment and to chase wonder. When we chase wonder through movement, in rhythm with our breath and with reverence in our steps, we are more likely to experience beauty in our lives and the awe that comes with it. And when we interact with nature mindfully in this way, it profoundly effects our physiology, our self-perceptions, our behaviours and our spiritual connection with Self and the divine within us.
Because walking and meditating in nature helps us feel whole. It’s simple – nature is good for us because we as humans are part of nature. We are not separate for the Earth and her environments. We like the Earth are living, breathing, moving sentinel beings made from the same creative universal force. Our connection with Mother Earth should and cannot be forgotten. I don’t know a single person who doesn’t benefit from interacting and moving with nature. This is especially true for women who bare the creative qualities and intimate connections to the web of life and Mother Earth herself.
How to Practice Walking Meditation
Pick Your Nature
Choose a location that is relaxing and peaceful to you like a local trail, a riverside or garden. Check out your local conservation areas and provincial parks to find lots of possible locations and hidden retreats.
Root Yourself Like a Tree
Before you begin your walk, make sure to turn off your phone, and let go of any other distractions. Take a few deep breaths and bring your full attention to your body. Feel the ground beneath your feet and root into the Earth for a moment or two, noting any initial thoughts or sensations that surface.
Close your eyes and use one of your senses to connect with the moment. Perhaps fill your nostrils with the scent of the air or listen for movement as life springs. When you are centered, focused and anchored with your breath and being, begin to walk.
Walk with Reverence
As you walk, turn your focus and attention to the movement of your body. Walk slowly and notice each step. Remember not to rush. Instead, take your time. Feel the solidity of the earth below your feet as you take each step. Notice where you place your weight on your foot. Is it your heel or through your entire foot? Notice the ease or the work it takes your body to lift your legs. Observe the rhythm of the pace your body likes to move. If it’s too fast, slow yourself down so you can bring your attention to the sensation of each footstep.
As you walk, observe and sense into your body and the surroundings. Simply observe without judgement any feelings, bodily sensations and thoughts as they arise. Let wonderings come and go from your mind then return your focus to your breath or the steps you take. Simply walk naturally with an open heart and reverence for Mother Nature and her sacred sanctuaries.