*As a side note for those who cannot walk: simply sitting outside gives many of the same benefits. Becoming an observer, rather than a participant, of human activity can give a much needed break.*
Meditation is one of the cheapest, most effective medicines known to man. Finding silence in a noisy world is deeply healing – but it isn’t as easy as it looks. Sitting and breathing with your eyes closed isn’t meditating. It requires you to enter a quiet, open place within yourself and the world around you and to do that, you have to be able to slow yourself down.
My brain seriously struggled to slow down because I was stuck in a mindset of I need to be thinking and working every second (and it still gets to me). The constant urge to be productive was exhausting – I could count on one hand the number of times I took breaks over my entire life. If I wasn’t in school, I was at work or I was teaching myself things or I was reading or I was writing or I was… you get the point. I do a lot of enjoyable activities, but for me, making art doesn’t count as taking a break. I need to make art just as much as I need food and shelter and love. What I needed was pure quiet. My biggest barrier to entering a peaceful state was the stillness, both physically and mentally. I simply could not quit cold turkey on an almost crippling necessity to do. I began going on walks to temporarily get away from the disappointment I felt about meditating, and that’s actually what fixed my problem.
Walking is an active form of meditation. It gives you a simple, repetitive task to do and a slow change of scenery. It’s slowness rather than stillness. I can slip into the meditation mindset much easier this way. When I walk, I mentally step back and watch my thoughts race through my head. I watch them fade into the distance, just like the landscape around me, until my brain begins to slow and empty. Once I did this while walking, it became much easier to do it during meditation.
Walking won’t give you a beach body, but it will give your muscles and bones a good stretch. It will give you (hopefully) fresh air, a break from your current environment, and a space to talk to yourself. Walking is medically proven to be good for your body, but it’s just as good for your soul.
There can be a lot of pressure around meditation. There are hundreds of different styles and philosophies of meditation and while this is not necessarily a bad thing, it can cause a lot of pressure around doing it ‘the right way’. Just doing it can bring thoughts of shame (why are you doing this, this is stupid, you look stupid, it doesn’t work) from our fear of others opinions.
There is only one way to walk. You’re in charge of the time and length. You’re in charge of where you go. No one would criticize another person for going on a walk or how they walk.
It’s such a simple, low-pressure act.
If walking has helped you (with meditation or with anything at all!), comment below and let me know. If you’ve found other ways to help meditate, comment and let me know.