There are about 42,700,000 results for the Google search “mindfulness meditation.” This is not so surprising. “mindfulness meditation” has been appearing in headlines everywhere, and even the most well known news outlets are talking about it. There are apps for your smartphone or computer to help you practice or learn about it. There are speakers who hold conferences. There are yoga studios on every other block in almost every town. If you haven’t heard of “mindfulness meditation” you’re in for a treat! One of the main goals of meditation is to be more present in our lives and in the lives of others. To be more focused on what is in front of us and less on the past or future. And here we arrive at an answer as to why there may be a sudden surge in “mindfulness meditation”. Anxiety, depression, stress are all on the rise. So, yoga to the rescue! Meditation to the rescue! The science says it works! (See the New York Times’ article How Meditation Changes the Brain) If you have not tried it yet, you can find a guided practice to get started below and learn how Walker Tracker can help you on your meditation journey.
I won’t go into details here because a blog post is too short for all that there is to learn about meditation, but let us be reminded that mindfulness meditation comes in many forms. Some focus on being mindful while praying or doing yoga, and others while doing exercise (ex. Tai Chi). At Walker Tracker we are especially interested in an ancient Buddhist practice known as Walking Meditation. Walking Meditation encompasses mindfulness, as well as exercise and connection to nature. You can use Walking Meditation to supplement your Walker Tracker experience, and continue your meditation practice while staying on top of your steps. Let’s learn how to practice from the Zen Master and best-selling author Thich Nhat Hanh who uses walking meditation in his teachings:
“While walking, practice conscious breathing by counting steps. Notice each breath and the number of steps you take as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Don’t try to control your breathing. Allow your lungs as much time and air as they need, and simply notice how many steps you take as your lungs fill up and how many you take as they empty, mindful of both your breath and your steps. The link is the counting.
When you walk uphill or downhill, the number of steps per breath will change. Always follow the needs of your lungs. You may notice that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. You might find that you take three steps during your in-breath and four steps during your out-breath, or two steps, then three steps. If this is comfortable for you, please enjoy practicing this way. You can also try making the in-breath and the out-breath the same length, so that you take three steps with your in-breath and three with your out-breath. Keep walking and you will find the natural connection between your breath and your steps.
Don’t forget to practice smiling. Your half-smile will bring calm and delight to your steps and your breath, and help sustain your attention. After practicing for half an hour or an hour, you will find that your breath, your steps, your counting, and your half-smile all blend together in a marvelous balance of mindfulness. Each step grounds us in the solidity of the earth. With each step we fully arrive in the present moment.”
Thanks for reading, and please let us know about your meditation experience in the comments.