I love meditation. It is a great mindfulness practice. But there’s one thing I’ve always felt a wee bit guilty about. No sooner than I sit for a few minutes than I start feeling drowsy. I mean – it is pure luxury to put everything aside and just sit straight for fifteen minutes, gathering myself, my thoughts, such as they are. By the way – making it a habit of sitting straight is far less tiring than sitting slumped, you know. Nevertheless, the calm and peace, make me fall asleep. I guess that’s okay, since the goal of meditation is to feel good. But there are times when my mind is full and I start squirming and worrying about my legs going numb.
I’ve often wondered if there’s a way to meditate without zoning out in the process. And I came across this little gem:
This is active meditation without actually shutting out your world. No need to close your eyes. All it takes is syncing your breath with your pace and you’re good to go.
Not only is it super easy to do, but comes with several benefits.
As we move, our focus turns inward and we tune out distractions, getting our minds to quieten.
When we focus on our breath, we are automatically practicing mindfulness, since we begin living in the moment without judgment. When we center ourselves in the “now”, it gives us a break from our busy routine, keeping stress at bay.
Look – we breathe, we walk, right? Breathwalking brings our steps, our breath and our attention in sync when we walk. To do this, we use a “mantra” I’ll show you the beat, and you compose your lyrics type of mantra.
Without further ado, let me share this wonderful practice with you.
I urge you to try it right away – it really feels fantastic.
Here’s what you need:
- Legs – you got those
- Walking shoes – unless you opt to walk barefoot
- Time – about 15 minutes max or even less – choice is yours
- Intention – you know you want to
- Desire to feel good – I’ll take a yes.
How to breathwalk
- You maintain the rhythm of your breathing as four-in and four-out.
- Take four short breaths in, in sequence, followed by four short breaths out, keeping pace with your stride.
- It goes like this: In-in-in-in, out-out-out-out or in-2-3-4 and out-2-3-4
- Exhale through the mouth
- Take long deep breaths
- If you’d rather start with in-in and out-out that’s fine too
- Inhale through the nose
- Let your steps be shorter than your usual stride.
- Walk right left, right left and then, right left right left
- Begin inhalations with a right step and end with a left step
- Begin exhalations with a right step and end with a left step
- Focus on breathing rather than walking
- Get into the rhythm of breathing and walking
- Repeat this pattern
- When your breathing matches your steps comfortably, you might want to try the following finger tapping exercise
You tap your fingers
- When you inhale, touch your index finger to your thumb, following by middle finger to your thumb, then ring finger to thumb and finish with pinky to thumb. That’s four inhales.
- Practice until you get the rhythm of walking, breathing and tapping.
- Use a mantra to help you stay focused and centered.
You practice synchronizing your breathing, walking, tapping.
Okay, I see you asking what’s the deal about the finger tapping. Here’s the significance of these mudras:
- Index finger + thumb = wisdom
- Middle finger + thumb = focus
- Ring finger + thumb = energy
- Little finger + thumb = connectedness
In the beginning, breathwalking may seem a little tough – after all, getting from mind full to mindful takes some time and effort with all the distractions we have – but you’ll get there faster than you think.
You’ll get back your focus and you’ll feel great afterwards since your body, mind and spirit are at work together.
Also you’ll build your stamina and flexibility, have better heart rhythm, visual focus, muscle balance, better moods and feel more energetic and less stressed. Yup, you’ll be healthier and happier!
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Won’t you try breathwalking and tell me how it felt?