Walking meditation, especially done in a natural setting, whether a city park or a wilderness trail, has the ability to help us gain new insights into problems both personal and global, as well as insights into ourselves.
There are various techniques that can get you started. Here are two:
This is great for achieving a feeling of steady calmness. Begin by finding a relatively easy path or area where you won’t be disturbed.
Choose a number sequence, no longer than 100 numbers. For example, one through ten, or one through 100. As you step, count. One step equals one number. When you reach your highest number start again. Do this as many times as you like.
Depending on your own personal preferences, it might take up to several repetitions for you to achieve calmness.
Once you feel you’ve reached an emotional plateau or calmness, you can begin to do a talking-and-walking meditation. Just try and focus only on one issue you want to achieve clarity on.
You can begin a dialogue with God or your inner, highest self about it.
Or, just focus on your good points. This sometimes can accomplish more than any amount of problem-solving.
Awareness in the Forest
A walk in a green, spring, lush forest can be healing. Breathing in all the fresh, tree-scrubbed air can bring new life or a fresh perspective to a stale issue. But don’t dismiss the power of a good autumnal amble either. Walking in the fall woods can feel nostalgic, sweetly sad, uplifting or exciting depending on your mood–and the woods themselves.
An autumn forest (or park) walk is also good for helping you feel grounded, and can help take you out of your head and into the present moment. Begin with this simple technique. You can do this one sitting or standing in a quiet spot.
1. Name (out loud if possible) five different types of trees you see. If you aren’t familiar with trees, use leaf colors or shapes instead, such as bright yellow, orange-red, maroon, gold, green.
2. Name (out loud if possible) five sounds you hear in the forest. For example, wind through the leaves, my own breath, my heartbeat, the scurrying of squirrels, the cooing of a dove.
3. Name (out loud if possible) five sensations of touch such as the feeling of a scratchy wool sweater, the step of your feet on the forest floor, your hair on your cheek, the smoothness of your palm, the chill air blowing in your face.
4. Name (out loud if possible) five smells and/or tastes, optional.
This helps bring you into the present moment, away from thought and emotion. Try reflecting on problems after you’ve achieved a state of calmness and see if you can tap into new ideas about how to handle them.