Activity time: 5 minutes
Preparation for Activity
- Locate a space, preferably outdoors, where participants can walk briskly and safely, in a loose cluster, without touching one another.
Description of Activity
Begin the mediation in a space where there is room for the participants to move briskly without running into each other. Make it clear to everyone that this will be a meditation. Everyone will need to participate silently, and focus inside themselves. If the group tends to be rowdy, establish that, for everyone's safety, anyone who collides with another person will sit out the exercise. Say, in these words or your own:
Many kinds of meditation work well to help us relax and develop a sense of inner peace. We will begin with a walking meditation.
Start by having participants walk in place. Set a steady rhythm, neither very slow nor very fast, where participants swing their arms in opposition to their legs (so the right arm moves forward as the left leg comes forward).
Now invite the group to begin walking at a deliberate pace, any place they wish without touching anyone else. When the walkers have established a comfortable rhythm, ask them to match their breathing to their walking. Lead the group to breathe in for two steps (left, right) and out for two steps. Ask them to try to keep their concentration only on their breathing. It may help to count "one" as they breathe in and "two" as they breathe out.
After a minute or so, ask them to slow their breathing. Demonstrate breathing in for four steps and out for four. When they have tried this rhythm for a minute or so, ask them to choose the rhythm that feels most comfortable to them and continue the walking meditation on their own.
Allow the group to walk silently for a minute or so more. Then, regather the group. Ask participants to share their observations on the exercise:
- How did it feel?
- Was it difficult to match your walking and breathing?
- Was it difficult to stay focused on the meditation, or did your thoughts ramble?
- Do you feel any different for having done the meditation? Might this kind of meditation be helpful if you needed to find inner peace to handle a difficult situation?
Including All Participants
If any participants are not able to walk, re-label this a "moving meditation". A participant who uses a wheelchair can match their breathing to the rhythm of rolling their wheels; if they use a motorized chair, they can simply breathe to a regular count as they move forward.