How "Walking Meditation" Can Help Your Diabetes Management
If you have diabetes, then walking is a beneficial health-promoting activity for you. This is not a revolutionary notion and countless studies support its numerous health benefits. Walking can also help you to achieve other benefits. If you are interested in turning the activity of walking into a form of mindfulness meditation, you can reap both the physical and mental/emotional rewards of mindfulness meditation practice.
Some people think that meditation has to be done sitting still but this is a misconception. Mindfulness is essentially an awareness activity of both inner and outer experience, no matter how it is practiced. It is a process of developing greater awareness so that changes to consciousness can be made. The kinds of changes that mindfulness brings about, help you to be more deeply fulfilled and have a greater understanding of life and yourself. Mindfulness offers you the ability to have thoughts, feelings and physical discomforts, without being swept up by them and overwhelmed. These benefits are achieved by practicing the skills of attentiveness and inner acceptance.
I'd like to describe a powerful meditation method called "Focus Out," which can be helpful as a walking meditation. The method involves becoming aware of external sights, external sounds and physical body sensations. These ordinary experiences are available every moment of your day so you can make use of the method any time. It's a very grounding technique and if you are someone who has trouble with overwhelm or agitation it can be excellent.
In any given moment your attention will be drawn to sights, sounds or physical touches. In this moment, if I'm aware of something in my visual field, I will say to myself, the word "sight." In this moment, if I'm aware of a sound, I will say to myself, the word "sound." In this moment, if I'm aware of a physical sensation, I will say to myself, the word "touch."
Your attention may stay with one sensory experience or it may shift around to others. To avoid agitation and jumping around, it's a good idea to stay with one experience for a few seconds before you pay attention to another experience, if something else is pulling your attention at the same time.
Here's an example of what my experience might be if I were taking a walk in the woods doing the "Focus Out" method. I've become aware of the chirping of a bird, so I say "sound." as I intently focus on the sound for a few seconds. I become aware of the flowing river, so I say "sound" again, as I intently focus on the sound of flowing water. I then become aware of the warmth of the sun on my face so I say "touch" as I intently focus on the warmth for a few seconds. I then become aware of a field of wild flowers so I say "sight." as I intently focus on the field of flowers for a few seconds. If thoughts or feelings arise, I direct my attention back to sights, sounds or touches, allowing the thoughts and feelings to be there without pushing them away.
This can be a wonderful method for several different reasons. It helps strengthen your ability to be present and enjoy life. It helps you to practice not getting hooked into your emotional reactions, by continuing to return to the technique if thoughts or feelings arise. By intently focusing for a few seconds on the experience, you are grounding yourself and bringing about a deep sense of calm.
Walking meditation can be a powerful alternative to sitting. Sitting meditation practices are a great gift for achieving peace of mind. However, for some people the process of doing sitting meditation may trigger excessive agitation. If you have been deeply hurt as a child or have trauma in your background or struggle with anxiety or panic, you may have avoided doing sitting meditation. For this kind of person, walking meditation is a more comfortable way to begin to learn the powerful skills of mindfulness and reap the excellent benefits that can come from sitting.
Walking your way to health and peacefulness can be done any time and does not require a special situation. It is an excellent way to develop the ability to bring awareness into ordinary life, deepening your sense of moment to moment fulfillment.