We’ve been talking a lot about pedometers and counting steps and walking towards physical fitness in the last few weeks. But walking does a lot more than strengthen your body and mind. Walking can also have a profound effect on calming and lifting your spirit. There are many approaches to using walking to speak to your soul. So take a deep breath, and let’s explore some of them together:
Love walking: Going for a walk with somebody you love deeply can be a great balm and help for both of your souls. If you walk with one of your children, this can be a time for you to really listen to them and focus on what is happening in their life. In order for this to work however, you really have to focus. That may mean muting your cell phone or turning it off altogether. (But don’t leave your phone at home. A fully-charged cell phone is one of your most important pieces of fitness safety gear.) This can also be a time for you to observe nature together. If your child is young, you may want to be prepared with some games that you can play as you walk like iSpy or simply naming the colors, animals, plants and shapes you encounter along the way. Love walking with your significant other can be a time for you to share the details of your day, or even just to hold hands and enjoy some silence together.
Social Walking: Walking can be a great time to catch up with friends and share thoughts and feelings about what is happening in your lives. And walking regularly with a good friend can help you keep your walking program on track. Having a great jaw session can help bring the fun into fitness and help you forget that you’re exercising. And don’t forget, laughing while walking also engages your abdominal muscles!
Prayer Walking: I’ve known some people who have found a lot of joy in using their walking time for prayer. You can take time during your stroll to pray for friends and family. You can even take time, as you walk the sidewalks in your neighborhood to pray for the people who live near you. Aside from allowing you to really focus on prayer a few times per week, I’ve talked to some prayer walkers who find that turning focus away from the physical benefits and towards caring for other people helps them to prioritize their walking program and be sure to carve time out for it. And spending time sending love out to the universe is sure to have benefits for you and for everyone you touch.
Walking Meditation: Walking is a rhythmic, repetitive process that can really lend itself towards meditation. Some people find it easier to meditate while they are sitting very still. Some others find that the physical action of walking really helps them with their body awareness and aids their meditation practice. There are many forms of walking meditation–from quite simple to more complex versions. However, here’s a few tips for engaging in a walking meditation:
1. Silence is golden. Bring your fully-charged cell phone with you, but mute or turn it off during your walk. Unless you are using music or spoken word specifically tailored to your meditation, you may want to leave your MP3 player and earbuds at home.
2. Take some time before you start to become centered in your body. Take a few deep breaths. Feel the breaths move your tummy in and out. Check in with your hands and feet, and sense how your body feels before you start out.
3. Take the easy path. Try to walk somewhere that will not require you to dodge a lot of people or obstacles. Some gurus suggest that you pick a relatively short, straight path. When you come to the end of the path, stop, reconnect with your body, turn around, and walk again.
4. Spend time as you are walking checking in with your body. How does your breath feel going in and out? How do the soles of your feet feel where they are touching your shoes or socks, and how does each footfall ground with the earth? How do your arms feel? Does your body feel light or heavy? How does the air feel as it touches your skin?
5. Send yourself some body love. A walking meditation is a wonderful time to send positive messages to your body. You can even choose a mantra–a brief phrase that you repeat to yourself over and over as you walk. The best mantras are rhythmic in nature and allow you to put a syllable on each step as you walk. Here are a few of my favorites:
I am worthy.
I am enough.
I am grateful.
Thank you body.
So what do you think? Are you interested in taking your spirit for a walk? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences as you give some of these techniques a try. Don’t forget to share in the comments section!
And yet another one of our faithful readers will be receiving a jump start to his fitness program! Rob Gokee, you’ve won a free pedometer! Don’t forget to send me an email at jeanette at thefatchick dot com with your mailing address so I can get your pedometer out to you!
AKA The Fat Chick
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I love all these suggestions & the photos to go with them are inspiring. I find my walk home from the train station at night has become a walking meditation. Rather than rushing I’m savouring it. Far more enjoyable & I’m in a better mood when I do get home.
That’s so cool! In some ways I think walking meditation is multitasking in the very BEST sense of the word.