Taking Steps Toward Inner Peace

Written by Cynthia Smith-Faught. Posted in Uncategorized

Published on July 21, 2010 with No Comments

Walking Meditation; A Step of Intention

by  Cynthia Smith-Faught

I started meditating almost 20 years ago. I discovered this practice through books. It would be a couple of years from my first meditation practice before I would be in front of a physical teacher and another year before I would be introduced to walking meditation. It was instant love.

By nature, I am a very active and extroverted person, so the idea of meditating in motion was very appealing, although I did fall in love with the stillness and silence of traditional meditation from the start. My introduction to walking meditation was in a labyrinth, an ancient archetype that twists and turns in a circular path. The labyrinth is thousands of years old with a rich history. I was living in the Pacific Northwest at the time and had been volunteering at a retreat center that was based in holistic approaches to healing and living. On the property there were three beautiful outdoor garden labyrinths. Walking the labyrinth was actually a little intimidating to me at first. I always waited until I was sure no one was around before I would proceed in my meditative walk into the labyrinth.

The labyrinth was mysterious and seemed to have a magical essence. After many years of studying the labyrinth, it still holds that essence for me. If you would like to experience a labyrinth there are a few that I am aware of here in Northwest Indiana. One is located at Valparaiso University, and there are two, one indoors and one outdoors at Ancillia College in Donaldson, IN. One of the nice things about a labyrinth walk is that there are no decisions to make: Just walk one step at a time  —  one way in and one way out.

However, you don’t have to be in a labyrinth to experience the joy of walking meditation. All you need is a space in place where you can be undisturbed. This could be as simple as up and down your hallway or around your backyard. If you decide on a location in public, the meditation will not be as introspective. Walking meditation; walking with intention, requires a mindful and reflective approach.

Let’s Get Started!

Designate your path first so you do not have to think about where you are going. Wear comfortable loose clothing that does not bind or make noise when you walk. If you are walking inside, try walking barefoot; when walking outside wear flexible shoes so you can feel your feet move (as you become more experienced, you may like to experience the walk outside barefoot as, well). At the start of your path take a deep breath and bring awareness to your mindful intention of just walking. Tell yourself that you want to release your thoughts when they show up, and focus on your footsteps and your breath. Let your hands rest in front of you with your fingertips gently touching together. This helps to balance your step and stabilizes your walk.

As you begin walking think about each step, and bring your focus on the part of your foot that is connecting to the earth or floor. Take it very slowly to start and then find gentle rhythm to your walk that will eventually flow with ease.  If you are walking up and down your hallway you may do this many times. Set a general time for this meditation – five to 10 minutes can be very beneficial. Be careful not to let yourself get caught up into gazing around the room or “touring”, as we call it. The idea is to focus on your walk and bring intention into the present moment and your breath. That’s all. No more, no less.

Meditation is a tool for disciplining the mind. Science shows that most of our stress and emotional distress start in the mind, whereas, by learning to manage and discipline the mind, we learn to navigate through the mind field of life.

Meditation in all forms is very beneficial to your overall health and offers increased mental alertness and clarity, enhanced memory stress reduction in the mind and body. Remember to enjoy life, one step at a time.

This column is a guide only for the general population. Not all practice is good for everybody, so please consult with your health practitioner before engaging in physical movement and positions. Having physical presence with a teacher is always best, but these instructions can offer a guide to the basic practice of yoga.

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About Cynthia Smith-Faught

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle. Cynthia Smith-Faught is a certified yoga instructor. She teaches adult classes and workshops through the Portage Parks Dept. She also teaches at the Bonner Senior Center in Portage. To contact Cynthia Smith-Faught email her at editorial@thechroniclenwi.com.

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