Jul 01, 2020 4:00 PM

Author: Charlotte Bell, E-RYT 500


COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in so many ways. We haven’t been able to go to restaurants, theaters, and concerts. We’ve had to exercise caution when meeting with friends and family. Our work lives have been disrupted or put on hold. And for some of us, illness—either in ourselves or in those we care about—has caused worry and, in some cases, loss.

Still, I’ve seen my friends, neighbors, and colleagues adapting to this new “normal” in creative and inspiring ways. Huntsman Cancer Institute’s Wellness and Integrative Health Center started virtual fitness classes within a couple weeks of the shutdown. Friends get together on Zoom to maintain connections. And, at least in my neighborhood, more people than ever are out walking.   

Walking is safe and healthy, and it’s been especially pleasant as the weather warms up. The fact that there are fewer cars on the roads has kept the air sparkling clean. It just feels good to be outside.

Walking can often be a time when we make plans, work out problems, and just spend time thinking in general. During times of stress, we often carry our worries with us into activities. But we don’t have to do that.

So what’s the solution? Walking meditation.

Mindfulness practice gives equal weight to sitting and walking meditation. On mindfulness retreats, we alternate sitting meditation with walking meditation throughout the day. Not only is the practice calming and grounding, but it also allows us to appreciate the simple pleasures of walking in a new way.

How to Practice Walking Meditation

These instructions will help you develop awareness while walking in your neighborhood or on the trail.

  1. Begin by standing with your feet hip-width apart. Close your eyes and feel your feet on the ground. Note how your weight is distributed from one foot to the other, from your heels to the balls of the feet, and from the insides to the outsides. You don’t need to change anything. Simply feel your feet.
  2. Now shift your weight slowly and gently onto your right foot, staying present with the entire process. Then shift your weight slowly and gently to your left foot, again connecting with the process. Do this a few times to help you connect with your feet and legs.
  3. Begin to walk now. You might want to walk a bit more slowly than your normal pace, just to help you tune into the sensations in your feet and legs as you move.
  4. When you walk outside, it can be challenging to keep your awareness solely in your feet. There’s so much to experience. So feel free to take in sights and sounds as well. Relax your eyes and ears and simply let sensations come to you as you walk. Feel the sun or the breeze on your skin.

You can call on mindful walking whether you’re hiking or simply walking from your home to your car. Use your walking time to let go of worry and stress and to simply enjoy the sights, sounds, smells, tastes and sensations coming from the world around you. Let walking renew and restore you—physically, mentally and emotionally.

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