As our summer weather arrives in Canada, many of us feel a strong yearning to be outdoors as much as possible during our few months of warmth. At the same time, we are also social distancing and may have limited access to outdoor space where we can stay away from others. A walking meditation is one way that I enjoy being outdoors and reflecting that requires minimal space. Of course, you can also do it indoors if you prefer.
To begin, I would like to invite you to find a space where you feel comfort and can have minimal interruptions. Your space can be the size of a yoga mat or the length of your garden. You can use a balcony, a bit of grass in the park, a section of the driveway, whatever you prefer. This works best if there are some visual marks at each end of your short path. I like to use the bricks on my patio or the edge of my lawn.
Stand in place and feel the ground under your feet. If you can go barefoot, give that a try. Take a few deep breathes and notice your connection to the earth.
When you are ready, inhale and lift up one foot. Exhale as you plant it on the ground. Inhale as you lift the other foot. Repeat. Do this very slowly. Remember: it is a moving meditation, not a walk to get anywhere. When you reach the end of your area, stand in place again for a couple deep breathes before deliberately turning around and walking back. Repeat this pattern for 5 or 10 minutes and notice if your sensations or emotions change over the course of the practice. If sounds from human life or nature catch your attention, notice them and return your attention to your breath and steps.
After you have practiced, feel free to change the pace so that it works for you. Perhaps you would feel better doing a whole step cycle on the in-breath or three steps per breath. The idea is to connect to your steps and your breathing by syncing them together. Get creative and make this practice your own. Enjoy your step outdoors!
Sarah Good is based out of Ottawa, Ontario. She is the Founder of Sarah Good Occupational Therapy, where she supports people living with chronic pain, women’s health issues, or mood disorders in becoming more active and living their lives more fully.