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17 June 2022

A Guide to Meditative Walking

June 19th is the World Sauntering Day and it reminds us of the importance of prioritizing activities that can significantly impact our physical and psychological well-being. “Sauntering” literally means to ‘stroll,’ ‘loiter,’ ‘lounge,’ ‘go for a stroll,’ or ‘roam about.’ Too often we find ourselves rushing between deadlines, tasks and duties. The need to keep up is all too important as it is fueled by the fast paced environment we now live in.

The World Sauntering Day reminds us that taking a break, meditate while walking and taking your mind away from problems are key steps in ensuring comfortable rest.

Filippo Calderaro

The World Sauntering Day is an excellent reason to get out of your house or office, stretch your legs and visit places nearby that you haven’t gone in a while for one reason or another. One activity you can do during this time is called “Meditative Walking”

Meditative Walking” represents a Buddhist practice that involves walking while exclusively concentrating on the present moment – avoiding all possible distracting thoughts. This makes it perfect for a sauntering day.

You can adopt different types of approaches to walking meditation, most of which depend on your location. For example, walking in the park is not the same as walking in the city. But perfect for busy people, this meditative walk can be done anywhere, at any pace.

Although Buddhist meditation is usually associated with sitting in the lotus position, you can also practice it while walking. Practising mindfulness as you walk can make this kind of meditation part of your everyday life. Let’s explore step by step how you can start to practice meditative walking.

Step 1: Decide time and place. If you have never meditated, an outdoor spot free from obstacles like a running track or open field is ideal. Once you become more skilled in meditation, you can practice meditating while walking anywhere.

Step 2: Decide how much time to allocate. You can choose how long this walking meditation should be based on your will and time. As a starting point, fifteen minutes is a reasonable amount of time.

Step 3: Try to see yourself in communion with the nature surrounding you. Observe the ground supporting your legs and be grateful for the opportunity that you have to walk around freely.

Step 4: Value every step. As you walk, focus, and give importance to each step: think about how your foot is lifting off the ground at that moment and how the other foot is following it. Focusing on the small details is the beginning of good meditative practice.

Step 5: Raise awareness. Keep walking and always remain aware of the changes in your body balance and of everything you feel. A useful tip is to keep your eyes about 6 to 8 feet in front of you to avoid distractions. However, you must take care to be aware of anything that might pose a hazard around you.

Step 6: Reflect on the experience. Once you stop walking, try standing still for a few seconds as you reflect on your overall experience. This way, you can better understand the emotions you felt, what actions were better for you and how you can improve your next meditation practices.

Practising meditative walking can significantly affect our lives as it brings together all the benefits of both walking and meditation. This simple practice can be an exercise that stimulates the spiritual and physical side of each person. Here are a few benefits of meditative walking.

Improve sleep quality. Let’s start with the most important topic to us: sleep. Regular moderate exercise positively affects sleep quality. Research from 2019[1] showed that you don't need to do an intense workout to get the benefits of exercise. Aside from that, sun exposure will help you keep your inner clock synchronized. This helps you fall asleep faster and wake up more energized. All these benefits can leave you with a calm and clear mind - the best formula to fall asleep like an angel.

Reduce anxiety symptoms. As mentioned above, anxiety and stress are two significant factors that can decrease the quality of our rest and overall well-being. A 2017 study[2] of young adults showed that walking reduces anxiety symptoms more when combined with meditation.

Enhance blood flow. Mindful walking is highly recommended for those who perform sedentary and repetitive work that does not allow much physical and mental freedom. Stimulating blood circulation is very important because it is the first and most important way through which we can oxygenate every organ in our body, especially the brain.

Relieves Depression. It is essential to stay active, especially as you get older. Regular exercise helps increase fitness levels and mood, which may decrease in older people. According to a small 2014 study, older people had fewer symptoms of depression after practising Buddhist walking meditation three times a week for 12 weeks. They also improved blood pressure and functional fitness, which can be achieved by walking.

Improve overall well-being. According to a 2018[3] study, people who walked 15 minutes in a bamboo forest improved their mood, anxiety level, and blood pressure. This shows the great potential of walking surrounded by nature, detaching ourselves from the stressors of our daily life.

Inspire creativity. Practising mindfulness can give you greater clarity and focus on your thought patterns which in turn increases creativity. Research from 2015 points to the link between mindfulness and creativity. You can also learn more about how mindfulness practice improves your problem-solving skills or cultivates new ideas.

Whatever activity brings you the most pleasure and peace of mind, World Sauntering Day is the day to do it. We recommend making the most of the sunny hours of 19 June, getting out of the house and breathing in some fresh air. Try to put aside the normal stresses of everyday life and focus on doing the activity that cheers you up most. Happy sauntering!


[1]https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/21679169.2019.1623314

[2]https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/0890117117744913

[3]https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5896408/

<p>Filippo is passionate neuroscientist. He explores the various topics around sleep, developing a varied and multidisciplinary knowledge around it.</p>

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