Experiencing Walking

Walking is not about counting minutes and steps but about being present, alert and open to experience.

I love walking. It is probably the easiest way to get moving. The main thing is to push yourself hard enough to get out of the house. When you are out there, comfortably dressed, all the rest comes easy.

My suggestion: silence your phone, do not wear earphones, be free from all gadgets that require your attention. Take time for yourself!

The information about the benefits of movement is available for everybody. It is widely known that people need to move or get engaged in some physical activity at least 30 minutes every day. Well, it is really a minimum but a good indicator to start with.

Once you are outside, try to avoid noise. Choose quiet, calm places such as a park, a forest, the coast, the country side. It would also be good not to walk on roads shared with cars, you miss a big part of the fun! What is the fun then?
Fun, pleasure and joy come when you don’t focus on quantity such as measuring the length of the distance covered and time spent. Also counting steps and minutes makes you focus on result rather than what you are actually doing and where. Much more rewarding is to focus on the activity itself -walking. I am talking about walking meditation.

When you are meditating, you are in the present moment. You let your thoughts be as they are, you do not follow them. Walking helps to stay focussed.
You are fully present here and now. You notice your footsteps, how your entire body works in a certain rhythm, how you breathe. You feel fresh air entering your lungs while inhaling – what a wonderful feeling it is to experience the freshness of the air! And then you exhale. Keep your focus of breathing for a while to get to used to the walking rhythm.
You notice your muscles working, maybe even some slight tensions once in a while, when you walk too fast. But it is ok. Slow down again and feel the difference. Notice your hands moving freely in harmony with the rest of the body.

After some time you start feeling more relaxed, the worrying thoughts that followed you, have dissolved and a deep calmness arrives instead. Inner calmness that makes you feel in peace with yourself.

De Hoge Dijk, The Netherlands. Photo by K. Tomasberg

Now you can peacefully observe the nature that surrounds you. Open your senses, use them to reach out and communicate with it. Look, smell, listen, touch, feel… There is so much beauty around you! Feel the sunrays on your face, close your eyes and feel the warmth of the sun. Smile.

Listen to the birds, to the wind. Try to follow the melody, the rhythm of the sound. Let it resonate in you. Let the cells of your body vibrate in the same rhythm with nature. Take time to experience it fully. You may even make a stop, sit down and close your eyes.

When you continue your walk, observe the colours in nature, the light and shadows the sun brings. Smell nature. Find out how the earth smells after a light rain or in early spring. Discover the whole new world full of life that is hidden in the grass, away from asphalt and roads. Stay quietly there, just be.

Gein, The Netherlands. Photo by K.Tomasberg

Walking meditation gives you an enormous boost of energy, joy and feeling of happiness for the rest of the day. It feels almost as if you have been away. Far away.
Sometimes you can take a camera with you to take pictures of the objects you notice. It can be a beautiful flower or a tree, a colourful leaf or a wonderful cloud in the sky. Sunset and sunrise are always worth capturing, the beauty of bright colours creates strong positive emotions that become alive every time you look at the picture.
You can also take a notebook with you and write down what you notice and how you feel during your walk. You can start a walking diary to memorise all wonderful moments you experience. Some people get extremely inspired while walking.

Pärnu, Estonia. Photo by K. Tomasberg

Practicing walking meditation you may be surprised how time flies without you really noticing. You get into the flow, which means you enjoy the activity, walking, and not the outcome (kilometres covered, time passed). When you are experiencing flow, you get completely absorbed in sensing and observing. It is you, and you alone, being present here and now. Satisfied and happy.

Kai Tomasberg

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