Welcome to the Outdoor Play Party. We’re really looking forward to seeing how everyone has been playing outside. This past week it has been hard for the girls and I to get outside. My eldest daughter has been sick all week. Our normal outdoor routine has been completely thrown off. Not being able to spend time outside has reminded me how important the outdoors is not just for my kids, but for me too. My regular daily walks are an opportunity to find some peace. My lack of walking this week got me thinking about how much I rely on the power of walking meditation. Most people are familiar with the concept of meditation, but have you ever heard of walking meditation?
A few years ago I was fortunate enough to attend a Buddhist retreat. The retreat was an entire day of no speaking, only listening, meditating and learning from a monk. During the day we learned about various ways to meditate; sitting, laying down, standing and walking meditation. The monk spoke of how nowadays when people go for a “walk in the park” they are usually listening to an iPod or talking on the phone. We are outdoors, in nature, but we are cut off from nature…we don’t let it in. However, if we put away the music and focus on our walking we can find peace.If you would like to try walking meditation here are a few tips for getting started…by no means am I a meditation expert. First, you need to find a place to walk that is not too challenging, you don’t want to be focusing on trying not to trip. Next, you need to find a 20 to 30 minute pocket of time for this meditation. Once walking, look at your feet or, close your eyes slightly, or close your eyes completely. Shift your wandering mind to focus on your legs and your feet. What are the muscles in your legs doing? What does it feel like for your feet to move? What does the ground feel like under your feet? As your mind begins to wander away to thoughts about all the things you have to do that day, bring your mind back by focusing on your alternating steps. Meditation is all about being in the moment, shifting your mind’s focus to your body and away from the noise in your mind. After 20 minutes of this shift in focus you will find that you feel refreshed and at ease. It might seem difficult in the beginning, but if you give it a try it will get easier each time.