Even though seated meditation can be restorative and powerful, let me be honest. Some days, it's really hard.
Sometimes sitting is physically uncomfortable – your back feels creaky, your foot falls asleep, or you have indigestion.
Sometimes being totally still and quiet means that painful emotions bubble to the surface. You may not be ready to deal with them yet.
Sometimes it just feels boring.
On the days those things are true, we can notice the discomfort objectively, nod to it, and then let it float away. That mindfulness practice of sitting with discomfort without adding an extra narrative to it can be beneficial.
But you know what? Sometimes it's not beneficial. Sometimes it’s just unnecessary discomfort. Life has enough unavoidable discomfort already.
Your meditation practice (and ALL self care practices, for that matter) is the most restorative when it fits your needs in the moment, whatever those needs are.
Today I want to guide you through a walking meditation, which you may find helpful for days when you want to meditate, but sitting isn't meeting your needs. It will still soothe your nervous system and slow down your heart rate like other forms of meditation, and if you’re worried about big emotions (like grief) popping up during stillness, this version will likely feel safer than sitting. It may also be a comfortable change of pace if you're experiencing physical pain.
Stand with your knees slightly bent. Slow your breath down. Feel your feet beneath you, and notice how some parts of your feet make heavier contact with the ground than other areas. Some toes make lighter contact than other toes.
When you’re ready, slowly breathe in and peel your right foot off the ground, heel first.
Slowly breathe out and step your right foot forward, heel first.
Slowly inhale to lift the left foot off the ground. Slowly exhale to step forward on the left foot, heel first.
Take your time breathing and stepping for as long as you’d like, feeling the sensations of your feet rolling forward and then settling into the ground.
If you need something more to focus on so your mind returns to the here and now, count to 4 as you breathe in and 4 as you breathe out.
When you’re done, pause with your knees slightly bent, and notice how you feel. Has your breath changed? Do your feet settle into the ground (or the soles of your shoes) any differently?
We’ll practice this meditation at the labyrinth in the woods during the retreat, but you could practice it anywhere you have space to roam without stubbing your toe or stepping on a Lego! I sometimes practice walking meditation down the hallway or our driveway.