Practice Walking Meditation

Person walking along a sunlit forest path.

Verity E. Milligan / Getty Images

Walking meditation is a wonderful way to transform something that most of us do every day into a deeply healing, nourishing, and enjoyable tool. It's a practice found in both Taoist and Buddhist traditions. When you practice walking meditation, each step of the journey becomes the destination.

What You Need

  • Comfortable shoes.
  • A pleasant place to walk either indoors or outside.

Walking Meditation

Practice walking meditation at any time you are walking. When first learning walking meditation, it's useful to set aside a particular time for it. For example, first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or right before bed at night. Make a commitment to practice at this particular time every day, or every other day, for at least ten minutes.

Walking meditation can be practiced indoors or outside. When the weather is nice, walk outside where you can be energized by the trees and sky. It's good to either go barefoot (especially if you are inside) or wear shoes that give your feet and toes plenty of room to spread out.

To begin, stand with your spine upright and your shoulders relaxed, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. Enjoy a couple of long, slow, and deep breaths. As you exhale, let go of any unnecessary tension, smile gently, and let your attention flow deep into your belly, hips, legs, and feet. Relax your pelvis. Feel your connection to the earth.

Next, begin to coordinate your breathing by taking small steps. As you inhale, step forward with your left foot. As you exhale, step forward with your right foot, and continue in this way. Let your gaze be focused gently on the ground in front of you. You can also experiment with taking several steps with the inhale, and several with the exhale. But keep the pace slow (slower than your usual walk) and relaxed.

As you become comfortable coordinating breath with walking, try adding this visualization: Each time you place one of your feet down, imagine that you are kissing the Earth through the sole of your foot. Each time you pick up one of your feet, imagine that a beautiful pink or white lotus is now blossoming in the place that your foot just stepped. In this way, walking becomes a way of expressing love for the Earth and of creating beauty with each step.

Walk slowly, enjoying each step, with no thought of "getting somewhere" other than right where you are for ten minutes or longer. Notice how you feel.

Little by little, incorporate this practice into your daily life. Keep practicing taking three or four slow, mindful steps, kissing the Earth, whenever you think of it. Notice how this changes the quality of your day.

Meditation Tips

  • Don't worry if this kind of walking feels awkward at first. You're learning to pay close attention to walking, something that you're not used to noticing. Little by little, walking meditation will start to feel natural.
  • When you stretch out your feet and toes and let the entire bottom of your foot come into contact with the ground, nerves, arteries, and meridians connected to the entire body are stimulated, which is very beneficial to health.
  • Let your mind be focused and relaxed. If it wanders into thoughts of the past or future, simply come back to the present.