Walking Meditation

How to meditate while walking

Walking meditation can be just as profound as sitting meditation, and has the advantage of bringing the meditative experience into our activity. There are a number of different walking meditations. Our variation is informal and easy. It allows you to be more present in your body and in the present moment. The simple experience of alternating steps with the left and right foot naturally helps create a meditative state.

There is a tremendous richness of experience to become aware of as you walk. The body loves movement, and will reward you with pleasure if you pay attention to how it feels! So much of the time we are caught up in our mental worlds — thinking of the past or future, planning, imagining… Paying attention to the body as you walk will help you to enjoy simply being alive. (Although there are sitting meditations in which you pay attention to the body, it is easier to do so when the body is in motion. This is another advantage of walking meditation.)

Where and when. This meditation is best done outdoors. We recommend setting aside at least 20 minutes for your walking meditation, and not trying to combine it with anything else like going on errands or walking briskly for exercise. Let this be a walk just for meditation so that you can sink into the experience with your undivided attention!

How to start. Before starting to walk, spend a little time while still standing still. Allow your awareness to be with your body. Take some deep breaths, inhaling deep into the belly. Put your full attention on the sensation of breathing. Then allow the breath to return to normal and notice it going on its own for a little while. Now bring your awareness to your body, noticing how your body feels as you are standing, and becoming aware of all the sensations going on in your body.

Now begin walking. Walk at a relaxed, fairly slow but normal pace. Pay attention to the sensations in your body as you walk. It is natural to find your attention drawn to the sights around you as you walk, but keep bringing your attention to what is going on internally.

The idea is to have your attention on the physical experience of walking. If the mind starts getting caught up in thoughts, easily bring your attention back to the experience of walking. Notice how the body feels in great detail as you walk. The entire body is involved in the act of walking — from alternation of the left and right foot to the swinging of your arms and hips.

Notice how the soles of your feet feel — the contact they make with your socks or shoes, the textures of the fabrics touching them, the way they feel as they bear the weight of your body and the sensations in them as your walk along. Feel the entire foot, being aware of how it moves as the heel is placed on the ground, and then the movement rolls to the ball of the foot and toes. Notice how it feels as the foot lifts and moves forward. Allow your awareness to move up through every part of the body, noticing the sensations as you walk. Gradually scan all parts of your body as you bring your attention to the ankles, skins, calves, knees, thighs, hips, pelvis, back, chest, shoulders, arms, neck, head.

When you become aware of tension anywhere in the body, let it go. Allow that part of your body to relax. Allow your ankles, belly, shoulders, arms, neck — all of your body — to relax. Let your hips swing loose. As you do this, the walking will become more enjoyable.

You can scan your body randomly, moving your awareness from place to pace in your body, or you can systematically scan your whole body going from the soles of your feet to the top of your head noticing the sensations of walking. The most important thing is to keep you awareness on the sensations in your body, easily bringing it back when your mind has wandered.

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Variation: Keep your attention on the rhythm of the walking — the alternation of left and right foot. Simply notice the experience of left-right-left-right motion. Keep bringing your awareness back to this experience when the mind wanders in thoughts or distractions of the environment.

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Walking Meditation MP3 for Presence, Relaxation and Aliveness
Also available as a smartphone app. The Walking Meditations app is available on Apple and Android phones.

Use these 3 different walking meditations to guide you to meditate as you walk. Each meditation has a slightly different focus – Being Fully Present, Enlivening the Body and Enhancing the Senses. (read more)

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Comments

37 Responses to “Walking Meditation”

  1. John Houle on April 18th, 2009 7:40 am

    Do you plan to create a podcast for walking mediation? I love the podcasts and use them daily. Thank you for creating them. John

  2. Mary on April 18th, 2009 8:50 am

    That’s a great idea, John. Hopefully I’ll be able to do that. And you are welcome — I’m glad you are enjoying the podcast.

  3. Marjorie Donnelly on April 30th, 2009 1:15 am

    Thanks for this “simple” but “elegant” guideline to walking meditation. I use the labyrinth as a tool for walking meditation. The labyrinth is not a maze. There are no tricks or road blocks, only one path into the center and the same path back out again. The labyrinth helps walkers find a quiet center while deepening spiritual connection. It is also a “simple” but “elegant” tool to expand on the concept of walking meditation.

  4. Mary on April 30th, 2009 9:08 am

    You are welcome, Marjorie. Walking the labyrinth is definitely a meditation in itself. Our town is blessed with a lovely labyrinth to walk in a redwood grove. I’ve had some wonderful experiences there.

  5. dee on August 12th, 2009 5:17 am

    have walked all my life..recently had a spinal surgery..starting my walk again and by divine intervention really) found this..thank u..because living in pakistan i would not have come across it otherwise..am trying to download as many as possible.

  6. Mary on August 12th, 2009 9:01 am

    So glad you found us, dee. You are welcome! We wish you well with your ongoing healing from surgery.

  7. Teri Ching on August 14th, 2009 6:17 pm

    Thank you for wonderful meditations….I have been writing down the meditation “Relax into healing”
    It has helped me understand the feeling of the words you use, and when i can’t meditate..I can look at the words and they help me in the moment relax..I have written it once on paper then computer..The encouaging words stay in my mind.

    Thank You,
    Teri Ching

  8. Mary on August 15th, 2009 11:07 am

    You are welcome, Teri. What an interesting approach — writing the meditation down. I’m so glad you’ve found a way to enhance your experience.

  9. mr. todd on August 17th, 2009 2:40 pm

    Thanks for your podcasts- they are really really helpful. Will try walking mediation, never really done one before.

  10. Mary on August 17th, 2009 6:15 pm

    mr. todd, You’re welcome. Let us know how it goes!

  11. scott Shannon on August 24th, 2009 5:31 pm

    I would love it if you would create a meditation for walking. Additionally, the music meditation without verbal guidance was wonderful. I would love to see more of them on your podcast.

  12. Mary on August 25th, 2009 9:13 am

    Thanks for the requests, Scott. It’s quite likely we’ll do a walking meditation. Perhaps another music podcast, but we do have the Pure Light CD with a compilation of music from the backgrounds of guided meditations.

  13. A Walk A Day Keeps the Doc Away | Live Lighter on August 26th, 2009 9:23 pm

    [...] help you stay sane. Walking is a meditation exercise, if you choose. Walking outdoors, whether it’s your tree-lined neighbourhood or nearby park, [...]

  14. Meditation with a focus | Welcome to Musings - The Loom Room Blog on February 14th, 2010 2:18 am

    [...] with the beauty of the countryside through which I’m walking.  I think this is known as ‘walking meditation’.  Gratitude for where you are and what you are able to do goes a long way towards reducing [...]

  15. claudio hidalgo on July 26th, 2010 6:51 am

    thank you so much for your guidance meditation really help me overcome thanks and keep up the good work thank you

  16. Mary on July 26th, 2010 10:46 am

    You are welcome, claudio!

  17. Taro Bilbo Starbuck on July 26th, 2010 10:12 pm

    Enjoy doing daily meditation with your various podcasts.
    Very helpful living in a stressful, busy and noisy urban environment in Japan. Thanks for your fine spiritual work!!
    I did purchase one of your apps on iTunes originated updated April 7, 2010 and enjoy it very much. Notice you have another app with the same title that is updated April 1, 2010. Are they same thing or different?
    Sushiland Meditator

  18. Mary on July 27th, 2010 2:51 pm

    You are welcome, Taro. Not sure why you are seeing two dates with the same App. Which App? Where are you seeing these dates. There is only one App for each title…

  19. Eleanor on August 30th, 2010 4:30 am

    In a Catholic seminary in Hong Kong, there is a labyrinth for people to do walking meditations. In the history of the Catholic Church, there were many great saints who practised the labyrinth walking meditation. The practice seemed to be lost for hundreds of years, but now it is being revived.

    Two days ago I tried the labyrinth walking meditation for the first time, with the intention to regain my inner quietness and centeredness after going to Shanghai for a 5-day trip.

    When I first walked into the labyrinth, I felt a very soft and shallow sense of tranquility. My mind started to settle down. Then I felt a glimpse of joy. It revealed to me that, behind all the busy preparation work for my 5-day trip and during the exciting trip itself, I felt joyful instead of exhausted and impatient.

    Then, behind this joy, I felt an ever deeper sense of tranquility. As I walked closer into the labyrinth, my chest started to feel pain and my pulse accelerated. I began to feel the anxiety that laid very deep in my heart. However, I didn’t really look into the anxious feeling. I let it pass instead. Indeed, the feeling of anxiety gradually disappeared, and I could resume my walking.

    While walking, I listened to the birds chattering on the trees nearby. I felt that these birds were my companions. I have to admit that part of my anxiety was due to my further studies at the seminary. I feared that I might not be able to make friends with the other students. The birds reminded me that I was not alone in facing the challenges ahead. Tears felt down as I realized that there was always companionship in the seminary.

    Finally I arrived at the center of the labyrinth. I stood there for a short prayer, again praying for the ability to regain my inner centeredness. Suddenly there seemed to be a voice saying to me, “If you can’t imagine a very loud God who appears with trumpet sounds and thundering, don’t force yourself to imagine like this. Yes, of course God speaks very loudly, but God also speaks to you in silence and stillness. Just stay in this silence if this is where you are created to be, and if this is the place where you will meet God.”

    As I walked out of the labyrinth, I felt that my steps were lighter and my mind refreshed.

    This labyrinth walking meditation has taught me that there are different levels of silence. The first level is a simple sense of inner quietness. The second level goes beyond our joyful feelings and we begin to get in touch with our true selves. In the deepest level, we simply forget ourselves and sink into the divine silence.

    As my studies at the seminary will begin in September, I will take this opportunity to do the labyrinth walking meditation as a spiritual practice.

  20. Mary on August 30th, 2010 9:12 am

    Eleanor, walking the labyrinth can be such a profound meditation. Thank you for sharing this very beautiful experience with us and your observation about levels of silence. This is very moving!

  21. Labyrinth Walking Meditation | Meditation Oasis on August 31st, 2010 11:12 am

    [...] was inspired to write this post by Eleanor, a seminary student in Hong Kong, who left a beautiful comment on the website about her experience walking the labyrinth. It’s moving and inspiring to read [...]

  22. claire on March 23rd, 2011 5:30 am

    Hi Mary,

    I was wondering if you could recommend a routine to me, at the moment I change up my meditations and do them sparadically and I would really like to commit to one routine. At the moment I am going through a period of self discovery and find that I have alot of inner conflict, my desires don’t seem to match my actions and I get frustrated constantly. I have also chosen a difficult path as an actress and have been finding it so difficult I really feel like giving up. I need clarity on my true desires and inner peace. I need my life to move more smoothly in the flow. can you recommend the best meditation for this? I feel a bit lost.
    thank you!

  23. Mary on March 23rd, 2011 9:18 am

    Claire, meditating regularly is one of the best things you can do. Start the day with meditation, and if possible, meditate a second time towards the end of the day. Just use the meditations that appeal to you most in the podcast. It might be that the Accessing Intuition Guided Meditation would help you find some clarity, especially if you use it a number of times. Beyond that, you might consider finding a good counselor or coach to support you as you find your way. Good luck.

  24. wendy mewes on May 25th, 2011 8:55 am

    Thank you for this beautifully simple and vivid description. I’m sure it will inspire many. (I’m currently working on a book on the many aspects of walking meditation.)

  25. Sandy Schrage on July 23rd, 2011 9:06 pm

    Your meditation sessions are my first experience with meditation. I have only used them while walking. I have been surprised how dragonflies and birds move in harmony with the music. How details in nature suddenly present themselves. How enlightenment and personal revelation present naturally when my soul is quiet. Thank you for your work. Your voice and the background music is absolutely perfect. I have been going through some stressful life events and wanted to give meditation a try. To quieten my anxieties and keep my mind clear and stable. Your work is exactly what I have needed.

  26. Mary on July 25th, 2011 9:44 am

    Sandy, what a beautiful description of your experience — thank you!

  27. Small Steps Make Big Differences for Your New Year’s Resolution on March 27th, 2012 3:38 pm

    [...] 5. Try a Meditative Walk – Walking meditation can be just as profound as sitting meditation, and has the advantage of bringing the meditative experience into our activity. There are a number of different walking meditations. For example, Silent Walking which allows you to be more present in your body and in the present moment. The simple experience of alternating steps with the left and right foot naturally helps create a meditative state. Click here for more information. [...]

  28. More Stuff that Goes Into Creating Good Health | Herbs, Food & Health on April 11th, 2012 7:47 am

    [...] status, wether it brings you into the zone or not. It can actually also be used for meditation, walking meditation for example. Exercise increases blood circulation, helps combat cardiovascular disease, helps [...]

  29. Daily Practices: Meditation | My Eclectic Mess on October 22nd, 2012 8:23 am

    [...] least one of them everyday and sometimes I manage to combine all three into one activity by doing a walking meditation and stopping along the way for a brief sun [...]

  30. Erik on July 26th, 2013 5:17 pm

    Ok I love walking meditation.

    I had to walk to work 12 miles because my car wasn’t working(I am sure if I looked a tiny bit I could have gotten a ride from somebody but I knew I could make it.) And of course as I walked for 3 hours I cleared my mind and enjoyed the scenery and quietness of my mind. It was easy to go 12 miles(any farther would have been tough because my legs were starting to ache.) At least mentally it was easy and for the most part physically. And the beauty is at the end of the walk I had a very quiet mind(and still do) from the walk throughout the day. It’s awesome, I get the workout plus meditation done at the same time, that’s the beauty of it. I am definitely planning on continuing to walk and meditate(clear my mind) for at least 5 miles(2 ways so that would be 10) every once in awhile.

  31. Erik on July 26th, 2013 5:21 pm

    ….I am going to add onto what I was saying.

    Another thing I love about walking meditation is if you don’t have any walkmans or Ipods with you, you kind of have to force your mind to be quiet in order to stay sane and peaceful. haha. So it’s easier to meditate for me when walking than sitting because I can’t do anything until I get back home so I am forced to keep my mind quiet.

  32. Mary on July 27th, 2013 9:38 am

    Erik, thank you for sharing this experience and your perspective. Walking is a wonderful meditation, just naturally.

  33. xander ritchie on January 27th, 2014 9:08 am

    I am trying to learn meditation whilst walking,I find your simple descriptions very helpful,as it is something I have never tried before.You mention podcasts what are they?
    NB I celebrated the 4th anniversary of my 21st birthday several years ago,I find this electronic age quite challenging

  34. Mary on January 27th, 2014 10:36 am

    It took awhile to understand what the 4th anniversary of your 21st birthday means ;-) Our meditation podcast is found at this link — http://www.meditationoasis.com/podcast/listen-to-podcast/ The podcast doesn’t have a walking meditation, although it does have over 45 guided meditations. We do have a smartphone app with walking meditations, should you venture into getting a smartphone. Best wishes!

  35. Aditya agarwal on January 31st, 2014 12:09 am

    It’s nice but i was confused when it is telling us to get back the concentration to the movement of the body, well what if we are not able to do it??

  36. Mary on January 31st, 2014 10:30 am

    Aditya, it doesn’t matter if your mind wanders from the focus on the movement of the body. When you notice that the mind has wandered, you can easily bring it back to the body. Then it’s OK if you lose the focus again. Just be easy about it. We do have a Walking meditation app for smartphones. You could try that and see if it helps.

  37. How To Be A One Car Family | Brave New Life on October 5th, 2014 11:07 pm

    […] able to take some paths away from the main road, allowing me some peaceful time to practice walking meditation on my way to […]

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