Walking is a popular fitness activity for good reason: It doesn’t involve fancy equipment or training, and it improves cardiovascular fitness and burns calories in an enjoyable way. While many people walk for speed or endurance, another option, with other wellness benefits, is walking meditation.
Dr. Sachiko Komagata, chair of the Department of Integrative Health and Exercise Science, recently joined faculty colleague Dr. Vincent Chen to share tips—including walking meditation—for healthier living in 2021. See Part 1 and Part 2 of this three-part series.
“It combines the mindfulness of meditation with motion,” says Dr. Komagata. “Some people simply can’t stay still during sitting meditation, so it provides a good alternative.”
Walking meditation is a slow activity, and the slower the better, Dr. Komagata says. It raises awareness of what’s happening within the body (a breath or the feel of each part of the foot touching the floor). Walking meditation also means observing the setting (the sound of birds chirping, the feel of a breeze).
Walking meditation takes place indoors or outside, even within a few feet of space. There’s not a huge time commitment, either. Even 10 or 15 minutes will reduce stress, increase awareness, create a relaxation response in the body, and keep the focus on the present.
“Walking meditation doesn’t require taking a class or a lot of instruction. There’s some very good information on the Internet,” adds Dr. Komagata. “Whether someone needs a break from a more intense exercise routine or a different format, walking meditation has a lot to offer.”
Contributed by Sheila Noonan.