If you’re nodding, it’s no surprise. Our modern day, tech-driven, fast paced society is facing an epidemic of stress and burnout, and one of the most talked about antidotes is, you guessed it, meditation.
You see, our nervous systems are not designed to work this way for long periods of time. It’s simply unsustainable. And when our nervous systems can’t keep up, all systems crash.
One way to mitigate swing cycles of “go-go-go and crash” is to take a whole bunch of mini-time outs. Read this as meditation. And before you click that corner x on your browser, know that there are many different ways to meditate. One of my favourite and most accessible ways is walking meditation.
Meditation is an inner activity, a process. A way by which we develop greater awareness. It is a practice of slowing down, observing and being at ease. Sounds nice, right?
Walking meditation is a form of meditation in action. It’s a way to hone and refine our awareness to achieve a deeper state of being with ourselves, a way to shift out of our monkey minds and into the groundedness of our bodies. It’s been shown to calm the nervous system and promote clarity and resilience. The latter being key. Resilience is our ability to bounce back from situations that diverge from normal and cause stress. Stress leads to burnout, and so it goes.
So how do we walk and meditate? We are more aware of our bodies when they are moving.
Step 1: Become more aware when moving.
- Instead of mindlessly walking and getting lost in your habitually patterned thoughts, tune into your surroundings and your senses.
- Become focused on your body, not your mind and your whirling thoughts.
- Just like the practice of yoga can be thought of as a moving meditation, so too can simply walking. Movement is movement and all of it can be mindful.
Step 2: Try this simple meditation.
- Begin by being aware of your body.
- Stand up, pick a place to walk to. Tune into all your senses and all the subtleties. Then, shift your awareness to what you’re feeling. Just notice. It doesn’t really matter what you’re feeling. No judgement. You’re just watching.
- Feel your feet firmly on the ground, the nuance of each step. Notice your breath, take deeper breaths. Notice the light touch of the air on your skin, your heartbeat, your fingertips, your toes. Keep noticing. Everything.
- Do this for 5 minutes, then 15, then the sky’s the limit!
And, well… that’s it. Over time, these time-outs and bouts of gentle movement will entrain your nervous system to be more calm and resilient than usual.
So try it. Next time you have coffee break, make that walk to the corner cafe a mindful one. Or for the ultimate recharge: go barefoot in the woods, shinrin yoku style. Walk with freedom and solidity, no longer in a hurry. Pay attention. Notice.
Being mindful, immersed in nature - you’ll be well on your way to keeping burnout at bay. Walk on.
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