Sometimes guests at the retreat tell us that they find it hard to sit and meditate. No matter what position they try, they experience aches and pains, which can lead to feelings of frustration and an eventually giving up completely. Personally, there are some days when I might feel particularly agitated or anxious about something when sitting still is just too challenging. On those days I give myself a break, lighten it up a little and practice a walking meditation instead.
By walking I don’t mean hiking up a hill, taking four hours to reach a destination or power-waking ten kilometres. In a walking meditation we slow the movement of walking down, I mean really slow, so that we can become completely aware of each movement of the body involved in walking. It is nothing to do with exercise, distance, building stamina or cardiovascular health, it is purely about being present with our body, being mindful as we move. At the same time, we can allow all other thoughts to drop away.
There are different ways to practice a walking meditation, or elements to focus on. Today, I want to share a meditation focusing on the movement of the legs and feet. I suggest that you take ten minutes to do this practice – you can extend the time longer if you want to, 20 minutes is a nice amount of time if you have it.
How to practice a walking meditation
All you need for a walking meditation is a space where you won’t be disturbed. If the weather is good, you can go outside. I recommend practicing barefoot if possible, so make sure the floor is free of stones or other items that could hurt your feet. Walking on the grass is lovely and very grounding. However, you can also walk on a patio, indoors on a carpet or tiled floor. Three metres square should be large enough.
Set a timer so that you do not need to worry about how long you are meditating for – it will ping once the time is up.
Start by standing with both feet on the floor. Take a moment to focus on the contact of each toe with the floor, notice that the balls of the feet touch the floor, and the heels. Be aware of the contact with the floor and also how the whole of the feet and legs feel as you are standing there.
Then gently lift your left foot. As you do so, notice the sensations in the left leg as it rises from the floor, how it feels light and free. Notice the sensations in the right leg, as the weight moves into the right leg and the right foot presses down into the floor – how are the toes feeling, what sensations are there in the soles of the feet and the heels? Can you observe what is happening to the muscles in the lifted left leg? Notice how the left foot feels, observe the air brushing the skin of the toes, the top of the foot and the sole of the foot. Be completely present with the legs and the feet.
Start to place the left leg down onto the floor, just in front of you. Notice how the feeling in the left leg and foot changes. Notice how the toes might start to spread a little as the weight of the body moves into the left leg. Observe the muscles in the left foot and leg as they change to accommodate the body weight moving. Notice how light the right leg and foot start to feel, as all your body weight moves into the left leg and foot, so the left foot is completely connected to the floor and grounded.
Notice how the lightness in the right leg allows the right foot to lift away from the ground. Being aware of the sensations in both legs, the muscles moving, as the weight of your body starts to shift. Notice the feeling of lightness and freedom in the right foot as it lifts from the floor. As the right foot moves through the air, be fully aware of the shifting movement in the muscles in both legs, then notice the sensations as the right foot connects to the ground once again.
Continue with the slow movement, observing all the movements and sensations in your feet and legs as you walk slowly around the area.
If you lose focus on the movement then pause for a moment. Allow both feet to rest on the ground, bring your awareness back into your feet and legs until your focus returns. Then continue to practice. Each time a random thought pops into your head, a worry, mind-chatter or you start planning what to do next, pause, reconnect with your feet and legs. Once you are back into the present moment, resume walking. This pausing might happen a number of times, but that’s fine, so it as many times as you need to.
Watch the video
You can watch the video as l demonstrate how to do this walking meditation and the slow speed of the movement.
Read more about meditation at La Crisalida
Each day at the retreat we offer a different meditation practice for you to try. At the moment we practice a walking meditation once a week.
If you have enjoyed this walking meditation, you might like to read our earlier article: how to do a walking meditation. In this article we explain how to link breath and movement as a focus for your walking meditation.
We have also written other articles about meditation, including some practical meditations that you can do at home:
- Three five-minute mindfulness meditations, focusing on our senses, like hearing (sound), touch (sensations) and taste
- Learn how to practice loving kindness and metta
- Try this simple breath meditation, in our five-minute meditation to find peace on the go
Come on a relax and rejuvenate retreat
I hope you enjoy this walking meditation and feel lighter and more present after doing it. Let me know how you get on – post your comment below.
About the author
- Lisa is one of the founders of La Crisalida Retreats. She is an Epidemiologist, therapeutic hatha and yin yoga teacher and also teaches mindfulness meditation. Lisa has studied NLP and hypnosis, as well as nutrition (she designs the menus).