Sitting meditation can be a challenge. While, for an instance, you can cross your legs, place your hands in Jnana Mudra, close your eyes, and attempt to eliminate all thoughts, the second can come and go so quickly you find yourself antsy and frustrated.But with all the research on the benefits of meditation, and Buddha’s infamous wisdom on the matter, it’s hard to brush it off as something you shouldn’t do.But here’s the thing: Meditation doesn’t have to look like anything. On a fundamental level, we are all connected, but on a very complex and modern scale, we are highly unique, with many personalities and levels of consciousness working for and against us being able to just sit and meditate.
So what if you keep trying to sit still and let go, but you just find yourself sweating profusely with discomfort? Why not try another form of meditation?
In his article “How to Calm Your Mind Without Sitting to Meditate,” writer Bill Lee addresses his failed prior attempts to fully being present, and letting go of control.
As a self-confessed worrywart who has contended with constant ruminations, flashbacks, and nightmares for most of my life (more on this later), all prior attempts at being fully present and not thinking merely served as reminders of how little control I had over my mind. Then I took up hiking and stumbled upon a form of meditation that literally transformed my life.
Lee found his meditation out in nature on scenic trails, in which he almost immediately found a calmness from the “intrusive thoughts” that hindered him from feeling capable of clearing his head.
The practice of walking meditation is beneficial for everyday mindfulness.
As Buddhist author and teacher John Ciancosi explains, “If you can learn to establish awareness during walking meditation—when you are physically moving with your eyes open—then it won’t be difficult to arouse that same wakeful quality during other activities…Your meditation will begin to permeate your entire life.”
This type of meditation may be more tangible for people just starting out. It can be practiced in short periods of time, like normal transitions from the car to the office.
One study found Buddhist walking meditation effective in reducing depression, improving functional fitness and vascular reactivity, and showing better overall improvements when compared to a group who adhered to a traditional walking program.
Walking meditation involves either coordination with the breathing, or specific focusing practices. The result is a walk much slower than a simple stroll. The eyes remain open, unlike seated meditation, the body is standing and moving, and there is a bit more interaction with the outside world. With the body moving, the individual can become more mindful of their sensations, helping to keep them in the present moment.
There are many types of walking meditation, including: Zen, Theravada, Thich Nhat Hanh, Mindfulness, Yoga Walking, and Daoist Walking, and each has their own set of instructions.
For instance, Mindfulness Meditation Walking is an adaptation of traditional Buddhist Walking Meditation by the modern mindfulness movement, and involves, as opposed to a practice of focused attention, more of an open monitoring practice. This type of practice allows for less focus on the soles of the feet, and rather suggests being present to the variety of sensations and perceptions of the present moment.
Read more about it here.
Because we are all so different, with our own needs, it’s important to find what works for you. Doing your research, like analyzing the ins and outs of the many different types of walking meditation, can help you to achieve a sense of mindfulness.