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Stressed? Walk It Off, Mindfully

Stressed? Walk It Off, Mindfully

Can't sit still long enough to de-stress? Learn how to meditate on the move for a different kind of serenity.
Buzzle Staff
Meditation is a well-known stress-reducer, prescribed by doctors and recommended by major medical authorities. In the article Meditation: A Simple, Fast Way to Reduce Stress, The Mayo Clinic says that regular meditation may help alleviate fatigue, high blood pressure, depression, pain, sleep disorders and a number of other chronic illnesses. So why do not more people do it?
Many people simply don't know where to start, imagining there's some magic mantra or pose that unlocks the door to Nirvana. Maybe finding ten minutes of peace and quiet every day seems impossible, or the thought of sitting still for long stretches of time makes you twitch. Whichever camp you fall into, there is a technique that overcomes all of these issues - walking meditation.
Movement is Feeling
Walking meditation provides the same benefit as sitting meditation, but it's generally better for beginners because it's easier to connect with your body when it's in motion. During sitting meditation, your body's signals are subtle and may go unnoticed by the untrained consciousness. Movement gives you something to feel, which brings you out of your day-to-day thoughts and allows you to connect to the moment without plumbing the depths of your mind.
Go out for a walk
Wear comfortable clothes and shoes, leave the iPod at home and take it slow. This isn't a workout, so don't think about heart rate or calorie burn. It's best to leave the dog at home for this one, so you don't have to care for anyone but yourself for just a little while.
Wander
It's not necessary to have a destination in mind. This walk is not about distance or speed, or even about getting anywhere. It's about the actual experience of walking. Try not to think too much about where you're going, just let your feet carry you wherever. Just put one foot in front of the other, over and over again.
Notice your surroundings
Quiet that voice in your head that keeps reminding you of all the things you have to do that day, and focus on being where you are at that moment. Notice the way the ground feels under your feet. Look around at the sky, the ground, the trees, the horizon. Listen to the sounds you hear. Feel the breeze on your face, feel it lift your hair. Smell the air. Use all of your senses.
Take stock of your body
Mentally check in with your muscles and joints, noticing any feelings of warmth, stiffness, tingling, rubbing or stretch. Feel your muscles work together to propel you further along. Feel your blood pump through your veins to feed those muscles. Stretch your arms into the sky and feel alive.
Return home and drink a full glass of clean, pure water
Feel the coolness spread into your belly, nourishing your body. Try to hold on to that feeling of peace and serenity as long as you can. Sit quietly with a cup of tea if you'd like, or go about your chores calmly, with a sense of purpose.
Meditation walks don't have to be long. In fact, consistency is more important than length of time - ten minutes every day will benefit you more than an hour once per week. It may be difficult to quiet that inner voice at first, but it comes with practice. If you walk someplace you enjoy, whether it's a nature trail, a beach or a city street, your surroundings will distract you from yourself more easily.
Just let go, and walk.