What to Do if You Just Can’t Sit

posted in: Mindfulness | 0

When I teach meditation, or we’re in meditation group, we’re usually sitting. Chair or floor, it doesn’t matter to me. I’m not big on rules, so it’s whatever works best for you, and whatever position you’re most comfortable in.

I also recognize that not all people can “sit” for a long period of time. Maybe it bothers their back or hips, or maybe it’s just not anything you want to do. That’s all okay, whatever the reason. And that doesn’t mean you can’t learn to meditate.

A moving meditation works better for some, helping them to focus more, and physical movement can help to relieve stress and anxiety, as you may notice when you take a walk to “let off steam.”

So, when you think about meditation, don’t limit yourself to just sitting meditation. Get up and walk!

Consider these benefits of walking meditation and suggestions for how to get started.

Benefits of Walking Meditation

  1. Learn a new technique. Walking meditation is something that I include in my meditation retreats, just to give people different options. Most retreat centers do. By getting acquainted with this method, you’ll be ready to join in.
  2. Get off to a good start. Beginners may find it uncomfortable to sit for long periods. Taking a stroll provides a different approach to launching a meditation practice.
  3. Reduce agitation. When stress builds up, you may prefer to keep moving around. Rather than skipping a session completely, just stay on your feet.
  4. Manage fatigue. It’s easy to nod off with the relaxation that meditation provides. Walking keeps you alert.
  5. Integrate mindfulness into ordinary activities. One purpose of meditation is to develop a clearer mind that you can rely on all day long. When you get used to walking while meditating, you’ll become more skilled at generating positive thoughts in any setting.

How to Practice Walking Meditation

  1. Create a path. You can even do walking meditation in your home, although I think it’s best done outdoors. Then you get the other benefits of being outside at the same time. Choose a location that is easy to walk with as few distractions as possible.
  2. Focus on your feet. Start out by noting each step. Over time, you’ll become more aware of the many individual movements involved. Imagine that your soles are caressing the earth.
  3. Pace yourself. Most people find that a slower pace is conducive to becoming more deliberate and attentive. You may want to start out walking the way you usually do and gradually ease up.
  4. Lower your eyes. Try keeping your eyes half shut and softly aimed at the ground a couple of feet ahead of you. If you’re in a spot where there are too many obstacles to do this, relax and enjoy the scenery.
  5. Position your arms. Lower your shoulders and let your arms hang easily along the side of your body.
  6. Welcome a smile to your face. Let a smile well up from within. Visualize pleasant and soothing images like flower gardens and snowy mountains.
  7. Quiet down. Leave your earphones at home. Keep in the present moment and leave any thoughts of the past or future behind.
  8. Observe any thoughts. Then gently let them pass and bring your focus back to the movement of your feet.
  9. Take full breaths. Breathe deeply from your diaphragm. Feel your abdomen rise and fall. Gradually synchronize your footsteps and your breath in whatever pattern is natural and sustainable.
  10. Prepare for sitting meditation. Walking meditation is an ideal transition to a sitting meditation. A brief walking meditation session will help you clear your head and dissolve tension in your body so you can concentrate better.
  11. Alternate between walking and sitting. Another good use for walking meditation is to make it a supplement to your sitting practice. If your foot gets a cramp or you just want to move around, meditating on your feet will help you extend your practice time.

Diversify your practice by meditating while walking. It will help you apply mindfulness to more of your daily routine so that you can enjoy greater peace and contentment.

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