by Caitlin H,
May 29, 2023
One of the most accessible and perhaps enjoyable fitness activities to make a part of your daily routine is walking. That’s especially true during the late spring and summer months when the fresh air, sunshine, and beautiful scenery can elevate it to the next level.
And while those things may improve your fitness and well-being in and of themselves, what if there were a way to make them even more beneficial? Enter meditation. Meditation can play a critical role in improving your mental wellness, with studies showing it helps reduce stress, boost sleeping quality, improve memory, and much more.
In addition, you can practice meditation anywhere and at any time — including during your daily walk.
So, how do you do it? Read on for a helpful guide to getting started with walking meditation.
Take five deep breaths before you start your walk.
Once you’ve donned the exercise clothing and laced up the comfortable shoes, take a few minutes before you head out on your walk to practice deep breathing. To do this, breathe in for 3-5 seconds, hold it for 1-2 seconds, and then let it out for 8-10 seconds. Deep breathing before walking will calm your mind and get you in the proper headspace to practice meditation.
Pay close attention to your body.
Meditation is all about having a deep awareness of yourself and the things around you. That starts with your body. As you begin your walk, focus on how you feel physically. Note each time your foot leaves the ground, how your arms sway as you walk, how your skin feels, and which muscles you’re engaging to make the walking motion. As you go, you’ll likely find all the things that go into taking a step — something we often do unconsciously — pretty darn astounding.
Feel the world around you.
As you move, take note of your surrounding environment. Consciously note what you see, smell, hear, feel, and even taste. Are you strolling down a path with lots of green, leafy trees and flowers? Perhaps you hear a brook babbling in the distance. Are you near a busy road with lots of cars flying past? Is the sun warm on your skin? Feeling the world around you by deliberately noticing it is a mindful activity that trains your brain to let go of stress and simply be.
Count your breaths.
Mindfulness and awareness can be challenging, as it’s easy for our minds to wander. When that happens, bring yourself back to the present by counting your breaths for a few moments. Tick off every inhale and exhale in your mind, or notice how many seconds you inhale versus exhale as you walk. This can also help you become aware of the walk’s intensity and how fast you’re moving. Once you’re fully back in the present moment, you can resume the mindfulness activity noted above.
Turn it all into a story.
Once you have the mindfulness pieces down, you can take them to the next level by turning them into a story. You do this by narrating the world around you inside your head, using your five senses for the story’s foundation. For example, you might say to yourself, “I see the green leaves swaying in the breeze. I smell the flowers as I walk by. I hear the distant hum of cars driving on the road nearby. I feel the sun’s rays warming my skin. I taste the humidity in the heavy air.” Focusing on the five senses, repeat this activity in your head as you go.
End the walk with more deep breaths.
Whether you walked for 5 minutes or an hour, wrap it up by taking a few more deep breaths. This can help you recenter after an enjoyable meditation walk to face whatever the rest of the day brings.
Author: Caitlin H
Diet-to-Go Community Manager
Caitlin is the Diet-to-Go community manager and an avid runner. She is passionate about engaging with others online and maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle. She believes moderation is key, and people will have the most weight loss success if they engage in common-sense healthy eating and fitness.