There can be a peacefulness to walking, a calmness that comes from repetition. Step, step, step, step – there’s a rhythm to it. Like chanting a mantra or focusing on your breath, walking can be meditation.
In those moments, your conscious mind turns off and your focus is inwards. I’ve had walks where minutes will go by and I’ll suddenly look up and realize that I’ve covered kilometres without noticing.
When that happens I’m not startled so much as awakened. There are stages to your sleep, during which your mind cycles through dreams and recharges itself. When you awake from a good sleep you’ve been rejuvenated and refreshed. When you return to your conscious self after meditation it’s a similar feeling, of mental freshness and readiness for new experiences.
Walking as meditation is not something that I can force to happen. I have to be open to it, to settle into a repetitive pattern of step, step, step. Little intrusions – my foot hurts, I’m thirsty – break that pattern. It’s partly why I don’t like to listen to music as I walk – I want to tune into the walk.
Letting the calmness of steady walking envelop you takes a discipline that we all have though seldom tap. Using that skill and honing it to become proficient is one of the great benefits of walking, so that walking as meditation becomes a tool in life’s toolbox. We all get stressed at some point or other, to some degree or other, yet we all have the ability to turn inwards towards calmness. Walking can help you get there.