5 Walking Meditations at Work
Meditation is becoming more and more mainstream here in the west. Although the art of meditation is many thousands of years old, it has long been misconstrued and misunderstood. Perceived by many to be a complex and mysterious mental exercise, it is in fact a much simpler and accessible experience.
If you were anything like me as a child, you may also have thought that the only way to meditate was with your eyes closed, sitting in a quiet room with your legs tightly crossed. But meditation requires no such environment, and certainly does not follow such specific guidelines as many tend to think. In a busy work life, it is really tricky to find a moment to meditate, which is why we gift you with the knowledge than you can utilise an activity that usually has little cognitive value for meditation: the time in your day spent walking.
What Is Meditation?
Indeed, the perception I had of meditation as a child was not really that useful. Meditation is accessible, portable and highly useful in everyday life (as opposed to mysterious, site specific and nonsensical). Meditation, in all its guises, is aimed towards one simple outcome: centredness.
To be centred is to be focussed, uncluttered and for the mind to have clarity. It is not a way of forgetting your worries and responsibilities, but a way of ordering those things around you in a way that you can see them all clearly. It is a way of turning your mind into a focused foundation, that is resilient and able to take on each moment and challenge one at a time. Meditation is the pursuit of silence, of nothingness, a clean space within which you have room to tackle your life in a rational and calm manner.
The world is so busy, and demanding, and cluttered. It is more difficult than ever to find a moments peace. When we are walking somewhere, we are generally moving towards as task that will require our engagement, creativity and focus. You might be commuting to work, or you might be hurtling towards a meeting.
However big or small the situation writing at your destination may be, however broad or specific the demand, walking mediations are a wonderful way to put you in the mood and headspace required. More than that, using this time to meditate is a great way to ensure you get the self-care you need without having to stress about cramming it into an already packed schedule.
5 Walking Meditations
1. Slow Down the Pace
The pace of modern life is often fast and time is limited. Our bodies move less yet feel that we have to rush to meetings and appointments. Slowing down the walking pace can ease the mind to feel less rushed.
There are a couple of options to approaching slowing down the pace.
Imagine walking through mud and the effort to take each step, or when walking on deep sand and the sinking of the leg to take each step.
Imagine being in a slow motion video and exaggerated feeling each movement required to take a step - the ball of the foot pressing down, suspension between the feet as the weight transfers back to front, landing on the heel of the foot, rolling through the foot arches heel to ball, etc.
Meditation does not have to be internal ‘thought watching’. In fact, with all the devices we now use so regularly, it could be argued that we now bury ourselves in a world of our own a little to regularly. Light your brain up and to invite sharp focus and observation into your day.
Whatever or wherever you are, put any devices down and open your eyes. Look at the detail of the environment around you - enjoy colour, muse upon the other people you see, smell and listen to the sounds. Acknowledge the environment and its vast array of offerings to your senses. Be at one with the world, and be grateful to be in it.
Your commute will be, if it is anything like mine, very functional. There is rarely any dallying, each stage of it is about how to most efficiently get to my final destination. Very rarely, if ever, do we take a moment to stop and prepare ourselves for the day during a commute. On one of my commutes there is a particularly pretty theatre that I like to stare at from time to time. I get lost in the majesty of it, and in the details of the architecture… this always calms my brain and brings my heart rate down.
(a) Give yourself an extra 10 minutes for your home to work journey, so that you can stop somewhere.
(b) It could be at any point on your walk, perhaps a different point every day.
(c) Just stop for a moment to take in the view or to breathe in the aroma of the day; to rest your mind. Allow six slow and steady breath cycles of stillness and then continue.
4. Body Sense Feeling
As you walk the body is moving and this can bring the focus of the mind chatter into the body and it’s sensations. These sensations are a feast of information about feelings and emotions that are connected to thoughts. Checking into sensations can be very calming for the mind and emotions. Learning quick checks of body sensation can create space between situations and reactions, producing more conscious communication.
When walking somewhere, even just to go to the toilet, take the steps with attention and focus on the physical sensations of the body’s movements as you walk. The contact of the foot hitting the floor. The arm swinging in the shoulder. The eye-line and neck tilting as you look in the direction of movement. The fabrics and air brushing the skin during the movement.
The breath is at the centre of meditation. Bringing yourself back to the breath is the simplest of ideas, yet extremely effective. Your breathing is always with you, everywhere you go. So, anytime that you need a moment to yourself, simply bring your attention to your breath. You don’t need to change what your breath is doing, you just need to notice that breathing is happening. This simple action will steady your heart, your head and your soul.
Want to learn more?
If you want to find out more practical meditation techniques then enquire about having our ‘Zen Robots’ or ‘Art of Breath’ workshops at your work. Designed to teach simple proven workplace techniques that calm, refocus and improve employee’s performance.
Blog post written by Chris Thomson, Edited by Nid Ra.