Yes, it’s “Words of Wisdom Wednesday” where I literally take a proverb, phrase or quote from the book entitled “8,789 Words of Wisdom” by Barbara Ann Kipfer, Workman Publishing Company, Inc. that resonates with me at the moment and explain the why, what, when or how of it.
Today’s phrase is: Walking Can Be A Moving Meditation!
Now, I haven’t read all 8,789 words, however, I can safely say that “walking can be a moving meditation” is one of my favorites. Why? I will explain.
A Guiding Principal About Being Human
One of the nine guiding principles I personally follow about “being human” states:
A human being is an integrated whole consisting of many different aspects: mind, body and spirit; thinking, feeling and imagination, etc. Effective and meaningful working and living require congruence and synergy among these different elements.
The practice of meditation supports us in being that integrated whole that we all naturally desire by connecting our mind, body and spirit.
What is Meditation?
So, what is meditation? A simple dictionary definition reads like this”to engage in deep mental exercise directed toward a heightened level of spiritual awareness.”
So, how does a walk become more than just a walk, this “moving meditation?” Simply put, while you are walking, become mindful of your physical body, your feelings, thoughts and emotions; accept what you notice and just become an unbiased witness to it all.
You could begin by focusing on the souls of your feet making a note as they touch the surface you are walking on. Move to your ankles and notice if they are relaxed. Next, pay attention to the motion of your knees as they flex and straighten. Continue and focus on your hips, your stomach, shoulders, hands, arms, neck and finally your breathing.
Become mindful of how you are physically feeling, is this pleasant or unpleasant? There is nothing for you to do but observe – just notice.
How about your emotional state? Are you bored? Are you content? Are you irritated? Are you feeling very happy to be doing what you’re doing at this moment? Again – just notice what is present.
How about your mind? Is your mind clear, or dull? Is your mind busy, or is it calm? Are you thinking about all sorts of things that have nothing to do with what you are currently doing? or Are your thoughts centered around what you are doing at this moment? Again – just notice these things with no particular judgment, it’s all good!
That’s just about all there is to it. Soon, all your walks will become a source for increased energy, focus, clarity and greater sense of lightness in your heart, it’s that easy!
Walking, a Good Habit for Breaks
As a society, the amount of information we process in one day is equivalent to what, not that long ago, used to be processed in a lifetime, in other words, our minds are working overtime. In response to the stress caused by this information overload, I suggest we incorporate the good habit of walking meditations into breaks, when our minds are allowed to pause for a moment or two or three.
The challenge is that the current activities most of us incorporate into our breaks are bad habits that provide relief for a short period of time. Habits like smoking, eating sweets or high caloric foods, drinking coffee and other caffeinated products, alcohol and even gossip provide us with short-term relief for our minds from our information overload.
However, because the effects of these habits last for such a short period of time, we need to repeat the habit again and again and we end up addicted to cigarettes, unhealthy food and drink, alcohol and yes, even gossip. These bad habits initially give us relief, however, soon become the source of our poor health, our inability to focus and process information and our lost spirit.
What one good habit could you replace these bad habits with? A habit that supports in creating a calm, rested, assertive, focused, clear minded, engaged, energetic and healthy state? You guessed it, meditative walking!
What one current bad habit are you looking to eliminate?
What is the cue that generates the habit? In other words, what are the circumstances, the physical environment, the people, the feelings, the conversations that trigger the habit?
What is the reward, what does the habit give you?
Could you replace the habit with meditative walking? If yes, what needs to be put in place to help you achieve this habit change?
What is your first action step? When will you begin?
Who can help you with this, someone you are accountable to? A partner who may be interested in participating in your new habit.
I always encourage you to log and keep track of any new habit change, “you can’t change what you don’t measure.” Just make a note in a calendar or spreadsheet, include any information that you believe would be helpful and review each week. Celebrate your successes and be mindful of your setbacks.
At the end of each week, ask yourself what did I learn, make adjustments based on the new learning and make plans for the week ahead. Keep moving forward, creating a momentum and soon your meditative walking will be one of your core fundamental habits that supports you in being your best self!
To learn more about meditative walking, I suggest checking out this website Wildmind Buddhist and clicking on the meditative walking link. It includes a detailed transcript of a guided session on CD and expands on how to get to that meditative state while walking. A great resource that can help you understand about habits and how to change them is the book entitled “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg.
As always, I look forward to any comments and questions. Feel free to Contact me directly as well, I am here to help.
We become what we think about!