Health & Wellness Articles

A Guide to Walking Meditation

Zen and the Art of Multitasking


Walking Meditation #2: Focus on the Six Sensations
The second way to practice walking meditation is similar to the first, with a slight variation in focus. Once you've mastered the first technique, you'll be ready for a little more challenge. You focus only on the sensations of your feet, noticing the pattern of lifting, pushing, and dropping of your feet as you walk. Eventually you will notice all six of the components of walking—raising, lifting, pushing, dropping, touching, and pressing. As you walk, you will notice that your mind will inevitably wander from this focus. The skill you work to develop is to refocus your awareness to the sensations of your feet, observing each component, each time it takes place. You can even chant the components softly as you walk. Obviously, a walking meditation beginner would probably not be able to power walk, as the goal of walking meditation is to calm the mind, not send it spinning.

Walking Meditation #2: Focus on the Four Foundations
The third way to practice walking meditation is a little more complicated than the previous two, as there are several steps to follow:

To begin, stand solidly on the ground. Spend a minute or two taking note of how your body feels, and what mental state you are experiencing. As you begin your walk, practice focusing on each of the following four foundations, one at a time:
  • Physical sensations. How does each part of your body feel? Start with the soles of your feet, and progress upward, relaxing each body part as you become aware of it. The point is not to think about why your shoulders are tense (let those thoughts go) but to simply relax them.
  • Feelings. A feeling is your initial reaction to a sensation. When you hear a song on the radio that you don't like, your feeling is dislike or displeasure, for example. A feeling usually leads to an emotional response (in this example, anger or annoyance). Learning to separate your emotions from their feelings is a powerful tool. This foundation can help you to develop the power to observe a feeling for what it is, and eventually maintain more control over your emotional reaction to it.
  • Mental and emotional states. Notice your state of mind. Is it calm or busy, cloudy or focused? Also notice your emotions as you experience them. Anger if someone comes too close while passing you, anxiety if you think of a huge project you need to finish, happiness at the sight of a puppy. Becoming aware of your present mental and emotional states strengthens your ability to be in and focus on the moment.
  • Objects of consciousness. Inevitably, random thoughts will surface as you are trying to clear your mind and focus on these foundations. As you become aware of your emotions and thoughts, try to sort them into categories—thoughts to keep and thoughts to toss. Realize which thoughts lead to negative emotions and which lead to positive ones.
Slowly ease out of the practice by allowing yourself to notice your surroundings, such as grass, trees, sky, chirping birds, and the sun on your face. To end the practice, gradually come to a stop, and become aware of the feeling of standing still again. Notice how you feel now, compared to how you felt when you started. Take your newfound awareness and calm with you for the rest of your day. Because this technique is more complex than the first two, you may wish to be guided through it. You can purchase a meditation CD ( is a great resource) that will guide you through each foundation, including beginning and ending the practice.
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About The Author

Liza Barnes Liza Barnes
Liza has two bachelor's degrees: one in health promotion and education and a second in nursing. A registered nurse and mother, regular exercise and cooking are top priorities for her. See all of Liza's articles.

Member Comments

  • There are 2 Number 2 and no number 3.
    did this not bother anyone else? - 11/9/2015 5:56:06 PM
  • I read this after my walk today. My favorite part is focusing on my surroundings, such as grass, trees, sky, chirping birds, and the sun on your face. I love the sun on my face. Taking a lunch time walk breaks up the day and allows me to refocus. There's a peace that comes from walking. - 11/4/2015 3:13:25 PM
  • The two components of all meditation are relaxation and concentration; what differentiates one form from another is the object of concentration. I had severe ADD as a child (and young adult) and meditation did me worlds of good in making me able to control that (and I got other very good benefits from it too). I studied meditation as a martial artist, and did it simply by focusing my attention totally on my movement. Walking meditation is similar to that, but easier. You can also do driving meditation, housekeeping meditation, working meditation, and so on. The work ethic could be called the meditation of the western world (though not everyone who works does it): you just keep your mind focused on your task (or pay attention to what you're doing as they used to say). I got that idea after reading an article about a form of movement meditation practiced in China that imitated the movements of a worker in a silk factory. Self hypnosis is another very useful form of meditation I got a lot of good out of (but that's a different subject). - 9/3/2015 9:32:54 AM
    I like to walk, gives me time to worry at my own pace, and not hurry the thought process. - 9/3/2015 7:26:51 AM
  • I would like to try labyrinths walking, but there are none near me. When the weather cools down a little, I might try walking on the beach. But right now, it's just way, way, way too hot. - 7/28/2015 10:41:09 AM
  • I have done this before. It is good to start out this way because it gets you to listen to your body. I used it to learn how to properly jog without hurting my back or calves too much and use my whole leg in proper motion. Once that becomes "muscle memory" than you can enjoy your surroundings :) - 5/29/2015 6:08:32 PM
  • I think you left out one type of walking meditation, and that is to be one with nature. There's no need to isolate yourself from nature. It's good to feel a part of it. Notice the color of the grass, are there clouds in the sky? Listen to the birds calling to one another, is the traffic starting to sound a little like music? Are your feet moving faster because your fitter, or you are at one with nature? - 2/12/2015 12:10:04 PM
  • This is an excellent article.....thank you! Although I walk for exercise and appreciation of beauty in the summer and fall, this is a different kind of walking and one that I will incorporate into my weekly regimen.
    - 2/12/2015 8:34:21 AM
    I think I'd just rather take a walk on the beach while the sun is setting and take in the view around me and be aware of how I move and try to relax. This seems like a lot of conscious concentration and not much relaxation. - 2/7/2015 3:00:56 PM
  • I already do a walking meditation and LOVE it. :) - 2/6/2015 6:26:51 PM
  • I am going to have to agree with EABL81 on this one. I live in the mountain area of Montana and all I need to do it focus on the beauty around me and I am transformed. Not that I can't give this a try but I feel like I am in quite a "meditative" state around here. I did walk a labyrinth in Hawaii once that was quite suited to this. Good luck everyone! - 2/6/2015 9:48:54 AM
  • I went into a deep meditation while walking automatically once when I was preparing for a MS Walk - a - thon. The actual walk was almost 10 miles...I ended up walking 16 miles or better by the time I was realized and I was backpacking it at the time. Be sure to have your cell just in case. I had a cell phone ,but turned off until it was needed. I want to get to that point again. - 6/22/2014 9:33:33 PM
  • Awesome just what I needed....Now time to get new sneakers!! - 4/23/2014 10:24:18 AM
  • Great stuff here but to be honest here in NY this would never work outdoors because you would either end up getting mugged or run over.
    I do though, get the "focus" part and how this would help your mind to wander away from not so happy things. Hence, a calmer and less stressful state.
    Thanks for sharing! - 10/12/2013 10:13:43 PM
  • Meditation will change your life. - 10/12/2013 1:58:02 PM

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