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Mindfulness and Meditation through the Lens of Walking Meditation

There is a lot of attention being given to mindfulness and meditation these days. They are both wonderful ways to become more centered and to truly live your life.

Bringing our awareness to the present moment. That is where we live. That is where your life is.

A lot of people are great at planning their lives but not as good at living their lives.  Being mindful is a great way to live your life fully. As more people are exposed to these terms and practices there can sometimes be confusion around what they are and what they are not.

Meditation is a form of mindfulness but mindfulness isn’t only practiced by using meditation. There are many other forms of mindfulness.

I would like to start with the definitions of both that I find get to the heart of each practice.

Mindfulness is described as being present for the mystery of our lives with open eyes and a  loving heart. You can see that we can accomplish that in many ways. You can practice mindfulness while eating, brushing your teeth, doing the dishes, walking, meditating, and many other ways. Being present with life in the moment. There is a saying, “Be Here Now”.

Being and doing what you are being and doing in that moment and fully living it.

Meditation is engaging in contemplation or reflection, to engage in mental exercises (such as concentration on one’s breathing or repetition of a mantra) for the purpose of reaching a heightened level of awareness. There is meditation with seed and meditation without seed. If you are focused on your breathing and just being grounded then that is without seed. If you focus on a mantra or affirmation when meditating then that is considered with seed.

There are many proven benefits of mindfulness and meditation. One of those benefits is being happier. Studies have shown that we spend almost 50% of our waking hours thinking of things other than what we are doing. When we allow our minds to wander we usually end up ruminating about the past or worrying about the future. Those thoughts can come at a cost: unhappiness.

Practicing mindfulness can help us to respond more calmly to stress, reduce depression, ease anxiety, and generally make us feel better.

Research also suggests that positive feelings and emotions can help us to live a longer healthier life.

Another benefit is improved cognition. Studies were done that showed that after just four training sessions in mindfulness meditation the participants showed an enhanced ability to sustain attention and process information. Measures of mood, verbal fluency, and visual coding along with working memory also improved.

Other benefits of mindfulness and meditation that have been proven by research are improving the quality of life for those with diseases, eating less and more healthfully, improving sleep quality, and also supporting improved relationships.

When we are focused on being in the present, we show up in our lives for those around us. When we are not focused on the present we may find ourselves not paying attention to those we interact with.

There is a program called Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SILYI- pronounced silly) that I attended. It is a two-day course that involves mindfulness practices. In the program, there was an exercise on mindful listening. You partner with another person and then you take turns talking.

The first person will talk for one full minute and the other person just listens. As the listener, you don’t say anything. No “uh huhs” no words of agreement. Just listen. Then you switch roles and you now talk for a full minute with no interruptions. Then the next part is you have a one-minute conversation and see how it is to listen and participate in a conversation while being fully engaged. It is rather eye-opening.

As I mentioned before there are many ways to practice mindfulness and there are many types and styles of meditation. The meditation I want to share with you is walking meditation.

Walking Meditation

The purpose of walking meditation is to completely enjoy the experience of walking. Being fully present in the moment. We usually walk to go somewhere. If our steps are burdened with anxieties and sorry then when we walk it is in forgetfulness and we imprint anxiety and sorrow on the earth and those around us.

If we were to be out in nature and see a beautiful flower that is 20 feet away from us and we would like to go over to the flower and enjoy its beauty from up close, we could walk over to it directly and it would bring you joy. Remember that going from where you were to the flower is also life. You can enjoy every step. Do not sacrifice one for the other. Each is life, enjoy life.

With walking meditation, the goal is not to try to arrive anywhere or attain any particular goals. Our Destination is the here and now.

As I said earlier, people want to prepare for life but then struggle with living their life. People tend to be running, thinking of the future, and not living deeply in the moment.

With mindfulness, we don’t put something in front of us and run towards it, because we can realize that everything we are looking for-peace, love, and healing can only be found inside of us. Right at this moment.

As you practice walking meditation, be peaceful and happy. Remembering that there is no destination, so there is no reason to hurry. When you understand that there is nothing to get, then you can appreciate that walking meditation is not the means but the end in itself. As you walk, make each step peaceful and serene. With each step, you are brought back to the present moment. Because that is the only moment you are alive. Be Here Now.

Walking Meditation Process 

I will go over the process of walking meditation step by step. Through these steps, you will learn the process but the key is to remain grounded in the present moment. Enjoying each step.

  1. When you are doing a walking meditation you want to pay attention to your breathing. Breathe in fully and exhale fully. Enjoying each breath and connecting to your body through each breath.
  2. Measure each breath (in and out) by the number of steps you take during that process. Measuring steps with each inhalation and the number of steps with each exhalation. You may notice that you take more steps with either inhaling or exhaling as you begin your practice. Whatever works for you is fine. You may notice that over time your breaths will become equal.
  3. Focus your attention on the contact between your foot and the earth.

The three parts of walking meditation are focusing on breathing, counting steps with each breath, and keeping your attention on the contact between your foot and the earth. As you walk all three parts become one. If they all do not come together at once for you, do not worry. Being present in the moment is the most important. As you practice you will find it will come together for you.

The fourth step of walking meditation that I didn’t mention yet is to smile.  As you smile it is a sign that you are in control of yourself and your emotions. This is one of the main outcomes of mindfulness.  Realizing that you are in control of yourself and your world.

Walking meditation is a wonderful way to connect with your life and your environment. It is also a great exercise in mindfulness.

When you slow down your life and enjoy each moment with a kind and loving eye you will find that your life improves by leaps and bounds.

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Jason Jurado
Jason Juradohttps://www.onepathcoaching.com/
Jason is the owner of One Path Coaching where he works with clients to support them in designing and living the life they desire. Jason has had two major passions for as long as he can remember; supporting others on their personal journey and writing. Jason's earliest story was written about a trip his family took to visit his grandmother in the hospital when he was in the third grade. He has continued to write travel stories, fiction, and poetry throughout his life. Since he has gone full-time with his business over the past year he has been writing articles about mental health, wellness, and spirituality and posting them on his social media accounts.  Jason discovered meditation at a very young age through his martial arts practice and has continued to study and practice mindfulness and meditation since then. After graduating High School Jason joined the U.S Marine Corps and spent five years traveling the world. During that time he was stationed in Japan and continued his education there. After getting out of the Marine Corps, Jason went into Retail leadership where he was also an area manager, and trainer and worked as part of the regional HR team. The experience he gained in these roles supports his work in teaching others about leadership and how to improve their communication skills. Jason’s formal training is in Neuro-Linguistics (NLP), Hypnosis, Time Line Therapy, and Recently Polyvagal Theory. This year, Jason has done several podcasts and video interviews about stress management and anxiety relief and also talked about how people can use NLP to live the life they desire. In October of 2022, Jason will be part of the NLP Master Summit.

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2 CONVERSATIONS

  1. Thank you for this lovely essay on meditation and the clear simple steps for taking oneself on a walking meditation. I’ve been doing walking meditations since I was in my late 20s. It has become so much a part of what I do that it was refreshing to review the steps as you outlined them. I teach mindfulness and moving meditations through the lens of Ease. It will be fun to exchange more ideas here!

    • Thank you Laura. I know how that is when something becomes such a part of our lives we forget the step by step that we used to run through. Its part of the “unconscious competence” part of the learning curve.
      I agree that it is nice to go back sometimes and go through the process again. I definitely look forward to more conversations and sharing of ideas.

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