Walking Meditation: Planting the Seeds of Present Moment Awareness

As spring arrives our minds and bodies instinctively sense the opportunity for renewal and growth. Suddenly we feel excited by the prospect of cleansing our physical spaces and our selves from “unwanted stuff” so that we can be more open to receive and blossom. Spring Cleaning is a term that has roots dating back as far as 3000 years B.C. Commonly it refers to cleaning out our physical spaces, but it can also mean clearing the mind from the inactivity we may have experienced over the winter. Anticipating the happy hormones that come with increased melatonin and vitamin D levels, we start to feel more frisky and alive, and ready to plant new seeds for growth.

One way to channel these new opportunities for renewal and expansion is to follow a mindful and centered path ensuring we are not stretched too thin or distracted by too many thoughts, activities and ideas.  During this spring awakening, with this centered approach in mind, we have designed a 10 – 15 Walking Mindfulness Meditation. It will give you an opportunity to take in the renewing energy of spring while maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of the thoughts and sensations in the body, all through a gentle, nurturing and non-judgmental lens.

To prepare for your walking meditation choose a path or route that you are comfortable with and that you know takes you approximately 10 or 15 minutes to complete.

To begin your meditation, stand in Mountain Pose. Your feet can be together or hip width apart. Ground down evenly through all four corners of your feet and lift up through the crown of your head. Lengthen up through all four sides of your waist and let your shoulders roll up, back and down. Breathe here and allow your gaze to be very soft. Breathe slowly in Mountain Pose for at least twenty breath cycles.

Next, begin to walk keeping your gaze very soft. Bring attention to your feet  and notice them moving one in front of the other. Notice how the heel and the toes are feeling.  Exaggerate your movements by carefully planting the heel and then rolling through to the toes. Stay with this feeling for a minute or two and then turn your attention to your fingers and hands. Wiggle your fingers and circle your wrists. Open wide through the palms of your hands. Swing your arms while continuing to wiggle your fingers with each step. Roll your shoulders up  and then down your back. Lift the crown of your head high towards the sky and breathe in full, deep breaths of fresh, clean air. Enjoy this feeling of freedom and continue walking with an open awareness of your body and your breath.

Then turn your attention towards what you see in front of you. Let the beauty of nature boost your mental and physical well being by connecting with the colour of the sky, the texture of the leaves and the shapes of the trees. Notice the layers that exist. The three- dimensional aspect of nature: the roundness of a bush, the bumpiness of the tree bark, the softness of the grass and the grittiness of the potholes in the road. Allow all of these sights to move in and out of your mind like the clouds rolling through the sky – each sight beautiful in its own way. Does the totality of the experience of your awareness of nature make you feel invigorated and grounded at the same time? Continue walking and exploring these layers, in the moment.

Now turn your attention to your sense of smell. Does the ground smell earthy and pungent or fresh and clean? As you continue to walk do you notice different smells come and go? Are there any flowers blossoming? If so, stop and pick a small bud off of a tree or a bush to take in its smell. Does the blossom smell light or heavy, sweet or soft?  Hold the blossom in the palm of your hand and rub your hands together. Let the blossom fall to the ground. Notice if by combining the scent of your own skin with the scent of the blossom whether the overall smell has changed and in what way. Let your hands drop down again to your sides and continue with your walking meditation, noticing if there are any new scents in the air. Continue to breathe and move freely, aware of the sights and the smells. 

As you continue to walk, turn your attention towards the sounds around you. Can you hear the sound of the wind stirring up the leaves and branches? Are there birds singing, children laughing, and horns honking or is it unusually quiet? Soften your gaze and listen to the sound of your own breath, breathing in and out, and then turn your attention back to the sounds you hear externally. Listen carefully for sounds that you may not be familiar with and let the sounds sink in without judgment. Simply notice the sounds, even if they are distracting or harsh. If you are becoming distracted by the sounds, breathe deeply, and then exaggerate your exhale. Repeat several times. Go back to focusing on the external sounds. Continue your walking meditation.

You will soon be coming to the end of your journey. Before you go inside or into your car or on to your next activity, stand again in Mountain Pose. Breathe deeply and with a soft gaze, thank your self for spending time exploring the beauty of spring and the feelings and sensations in your body. Thank your self for mindfully planting spring’s energetic seeds. May your spring be filled with mindful renewal and growth.