Making Walking Meditation Part of Your Daily Schedule is Easier Than You Might Think
We are in West Andersonville in Chicago. If you live in an urban area like ours, you probably walk past many different kinds of buildings every day. These buildings represent various architectural styles, so you’ll see some exciting things as you stroll by. Urban walking meditation is a great choice. Around Ravenswood Chiropractic, we often do urban walking meditation through the neighborhoods and observe the beautiful architecture, the sounds of traffic, and the beautiful gardens. Sometimes we do this as we walk to lunch on Clark Street or Damen Ave. We purposely choose to walk instead of drive so we can fit a walking meditation into our day.
For me personally, I find both before and after work is the best time for me to take just a bit more time for a more nature-inspired walking meditation practice. It deepens my connection not only with my mind-body but also with the earth. At first, I thought this would be difficult in the middle of Chicago, the 3rd largest city in the US. But, I was quickly surprised at how many wonderful nature spots there are in Andersonville right outside our door. Even if I only have 5 minutes to spend, I make an effort because I know the fantastic benefits those five minutes will provide me, and I can’t think of a better way to spend them.
If You Just Have 5 Minutes (Before or After Your Appointment)
Try West Andersonville Community Garden
If you are pressed for time, We are fortunate to be steps away from the West Andersonville Community Garden. I highly recommend you check out this beautiful garden before or after your appointment with us.
This is a beautiful place to enjoy a walking meditation if you don’t have much time. While I usually ride my bike to work, if I do have to drive, I often park near one of the entrances to the Andersonville Gardens to enjoy a walk through them to and from work. You can do the same on the way to and from your appointment.
If You Live In Andersonville or Have 10-20 Minutes before or after your appointment
Try Winnemac Natural Area
A couple of times a week, I schedule a bit more time for myself, and I continue to the Winnemac Natural Area, which has an impressive 2.7 acres of native prairie habitat inside Winnemac park. This is only a 2-minute (0.4 mi) walk from our clinic’s front door, and we are so lucky to have it. If you haven’t taken a walk through Winnemac Natural Area – I highly recommend it.
Extended Meditation Walks 20-60 minutes. – Try North Park Nature Center
I try to do at least one over the weekend; I often find being near water at one of Chicago’s great river walks or lakefront paths perfect for an extended walking meditation, where I usually end at one of the many gardens along the way. I also particularly like the pond at North Park Nature Center, which is convenient for parking or to take the Foster bus to and a great spot with lots of trails perfect for walking Meditation.
Walking Meditation can be fit into almost any part of your day.
I find I use walking meditation as a way to connect to myself during periods of transition. For example, going from work to the kid’s soccer game or from school pickup to home for dinner. If you haven’t started a walking meditation yet and want to know more about it, read on or ask us.
Starting a Walking Meditation Practice
Walking Meditation provides a unique balance of physical and mental health. There are many different recommendations for synchronizing your breath and your steps, walking in specific movement patterns, or a number of steps. But we advise our patients to focus on connecting their mind and body and walk naturally. That’s it. Very simple. We suggest you cultivate your mind-body connection by noticing how your body is moving or how air is flowing in and out of your body. You do not need to do any special breathing or movement patterns to get the benefits of walking Meditation.
There is one thing we ask you to try not to do, and that is not to judge yourself or your thoughts; observe them. Yes, I said thoughts. It is OK to have thoughts while you meditate. Just observe them without judgment and let them float by like a cloud in the sky. If you are having difficulty, sometimes repeating a mantra may help. Mantras are a personal choice, and care should be used when choosing one so that you may find one that works best for you. Sometimes it’s as simple as saying “left” when I put my left foot down and “right” when I put my right foot down. Other times, if my joints are achy, I might choose something like “I am Walking, I am Happy”; if I had a stressful day, it might be, “I choose to feel calm.”
Sometimes if we need a little extra help, we can use meditation music or guided walking meditation. These are also personal choices; choose one that sounds good to you. These might also be called mindful walking meditations. Some of my favorites are available for free on the insight timer app.
Benefits of Walking Meditation
We encourage our patients to try walking Meditation because of its many benefits, which can be done in as little as 5 minutes a day and with no financial investment.
Walking Meditation can increase your energy level, decrease stress, improve focus, improve your feeling of wellness, and improves your mood.
Our Top 5 Tips for Starting Your Walking Meditation Routine
Walking Meditation is an easy way to practice mindfulness in everyday life. It helps us focus on our breath while moving, making us feel calmer and less stressed.
Select a route
Once you’ve found a comfortable route, start walking naturally and notice how the earth feels when you walk on it, the temperature of the air and how it flows into you, and how your body is moving. Then, return to observing your body without self-judgment if you are distracted by other thoughts.
Set aside time each day to practice
It’s easy to fall into bad habits when you’re stressed out. So make sure you carve out some time every day to practice your walking meditation. This will help you relax and focus better throughout the day. Walking to the train, school, or even from the parking lot to work can be a great start.
Choose an activity that helps you relax.
If you are having difficulty relaxing, You can choose any activity that helps you relax, whether it’s listening to music, guided walking meditation, breath work, or mantras. Just pick something that works for you.
Focus on your body as you walk
As you walk, focus on your body. If you find yourself distracted by thoughts, notice them without judgment. Then, let them go when you feel ready.
Be Patient With Yourself
It takes practice to develop a consistent walking meditation practice. You might start by doing five minutes at first. Then gradually build up to 20 minutes. Don’t worry if you cannot do as much as you’d like right away. Just keep practicing, and eventually, you will reach your goal!
IF YOU NEED HELP
Dr. DeFabio is a highly regarded chiropractor in Chicago who focuses on helping his patients achieve optimal health and wellness. He takes a holistic approach to care, treating symptoms and addressing underlying issues to promote long-term healing. Dr. DeFabio is passionate about empowering his patients to take control of their health and live their best lives. You can find him surfing, skateboarding, and volunteering at the Lakeview Food Pantry when he’s not in the office.