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Don’t wait any longer, don’t let life pass you by.
“When I say, ‘I have arrived,’ I mean I have arrived in the here and the now—the only place, the only time where and when life is available, and that is my true home.”
With these words, Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh inspires us to ground our positive vibrations through walking meditation. It involves walking slowly, gently, with no other goal but to be in the moment. It’s a way of taking a time out from the usual hustle and bustle of modern life. Anyone can practice walking meditation. Anyone can achieve peace, joy, serenity, and mindfulness.
There’s nothing better than taking a walk on a beautiful fall morning when the trees are decked out in their most breathtaking colors, leaves crunching underfoot and the sweet scent of the air filling your lungs. Walking along a nature trail or on a beach lets you relax, enjoy some personal time, take in the view, watch the sunlight bouncing off the water, and marvel at the transformation the trees undergo with each passing season.
Walks can also bring moments of great joy, like the smile of a child, a friendly greeting, or even a warm hug. It really doesn’t get any better! These are wonderful moments you can share and enjoy at any time of day, during any season, for any reason. You have arrived. Life has blessed you.
Life takes on its full meaning in the moments when body and spirit become one with the rhythm of your steps and your breathing. As you walk in a slow, calm, and deliberate manner, the earth invites you to let go and to announce your presence, in her presence. Be aware of your breathing. Is it long, short, excited? What is the tone of your breathing during your walking meditation? Place your feet upon the ground as if you were an astronaut discovering a new planet. This will help you be truly mindful that you are a being who is present on the earth.
Practicing walking meditation helps you become aware of your breathing from the very soles of your feet. Energy flows freely through your body. All your fears, worries, concerns, and regrets are banished from these moments. Time comes to a standstill. Savor the present, detached from the future and the past. Let your entire body relax.
“We walk without walking and without a destination. That’s why a small half-smile may appear on our lips.”
Keeping a half-smile on your face during these walks will provide—and share—a sense of joy and lightness as well as a profound sense of well-being. It comes from deep within you, bearing witness to the fact that you are living in this very instant, which is the only one there truly is. While walking mindfully, try thinking of some soothing phrases, like “I breathe in and become space. I breathe out and feel free.” The important thing is to give yourself some time. You have already arrived.
Walking meditation helps you be at peace with yourself at all times by being relaxed. The experience of living mindfully awaits. Just remember the breath, the counting, the steps, and the half-smile. With time, the combination of these elements will grant you constant mindfulness, increase your powers of concentration, stability, and a feeling of freedom.
This type of meditation also frees the mind and body from tension. Therefore, every conscious breath in and out contributes to health and healing. Take advantage of the pure morning air or a nice evening to practice walking meditation. You’ll feel stronger and more centered, both mentally and physically. By regularly practicing walking meditation, you will gradually undergo a profound transformation and learn to appreciate the peace to be found in every moment of the day.
“Your actions will become gentler and more mindful. In your relations with others and in your observations and decisions, you will be calmer, more serene, and more compassionate. All living things near and far, great and small, from heavenly bodies to insects, and even the buds of flowers, will benefit from your steps.”
Dare to free yourself and walk in mindfulness!
Hahn, Thich Nhat. 1992. Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living. Berkeley, CA: Parallax Press.