These days, when it comes to meditation, you find that people pretty much fall into 2 distinct categories. Those that can (and do) and those that think they can’t. Let’s face it... there’s no denying the benefits. Even some mainstream medicine is beginning to incorporate mindfulness into their treatment protocols.. so at the end of the day, what it really comes down to is whether or not you believe YOU can do it. Most people who think they can’t believe they need to sit still and clear their mind of any and all thoughts for at least 20 minutes a day (a daunting prospect for anyone) and one which automatically puts pressure on them before they even begin. But in reality, meditation comes in many different forms... whether it’s silent, chanting, lying down, sitting up, 20 minutes or 2 minutes.... and they ALL yield benefits. They ALL assist in helping you centre yourself and create that SPACE we all crave within our busy lives.
One of my favourite types of meditation is a Walking Meditation. Sometimes I do it just focusing on my breath, other times I will silently chant a mantra in my head with the rhythm of my footsteps... but for me, walking meditation is one of the most grounding practices I can do for my body. It develops a calm, connectedness within myself whilst at the same time, enhancing my awareness. It can be done anywhere, anytime and encourages you to become aware as you walk, using the natural rhythm of your own steps to cultivate mindfulness.
- Start by selecting a space that you can comfortably pace at least 20-30 steps in one direction (it can be more) before having to turn around and go back the other way. You can walk the entire length of a beach (if that is available to you) or a section of your local park, nature reserve or even your own backyard. Try and ensure you can feel the earth beneath your feet (being barefoot is highly recommended!!!!)
- Before you begin just take a minute to stand where you are starting, arms comfortably relaxed by your sides, eyes closed, feet firmly planted into the earth. Become aware of your body and take a few long deep breaths to ground yourself. Feel your body. Notice your breath. Switch on your internal senses and connect with the stillness within.
- Then, staying connected, open your eyes and begin walking slowly. Take your time and find your rhythm. Focus on your gait. Keep your spine lengthening towards the sky and your shoulders and face relaxed. Feel the ground beneath each foot as it makes contact with, rolls over, then leaves, the earth. If you have set a path, pause slightly at the end before turning around and retracing your steps. Always come back to the breath.
- If you are comfortable with your rhythm, feel free to add in a mantra to keep you focused. I have 2 favourites that I use regularly. The first, “Sat Nam” (taken from my beloved Kundalini Yoga).. simply meaning “Truth is my Identity”. So I’ll mentally (or sometimes even out loud) chant “Sat” as my left foot strikes the earth then “Nam” for the right foot. Over and over.
- My second favourite mantra is “I am YOU. YOU are ME”... reminding me that everyone I come into contact with is just a reflection of myself and that WE ARE ALL ONE. It reminds me to act with compassion and non-judgement (because I’m only really judging myself then right??). So “I am YOU” is 2 steps and “YOU are ME” is 2 steps. But again, find something that resonates with you.
Try it!!! You can start with as little as 1 minute and work your way up to as long as you want. I think you’ll be surprised at how easy, calming and connecting it can be.