A Walking Meditation Will Reduce Anxiety--Now
Thursday, August 24 2017 Tanya J. Peterson, MS, NCC
Step outside to take a walking meditation and reduce anxiety immediately. When we feel anxious, stressed, and tense, walking is good for us, both physically and mentally. When we add mindfulness meditation to the act of moving our bodies, we actively improve our mental health and reduce anxiety right now, in the immediate moment. Walking meditation can definitely reduce anxiety.
To be able to reduce anxiety right as it flares might seem impossible. After all, anxiety is strong and stubborn. Taking our lives back from anxiety is a process that doesn't have a quick fix; however, reclaiming control of our lives is indeed possible and happens in the action steps we take consistently over time. Engaging in walking meditations is an effective way to lower anxiety, beginning with your first small steps.
Why Walking Meditation Reduces Anxiety
Anxiety is weird. It waxes and wanes, or it can be constant. It can make our thoughts race with worry and fear, yet it can shut us down so we think we can't do a thing about our anxieties. It can also strike seemingly out of the blue. My own anxiety loves to pull that trick. I'll be going about my day, relatively anxiety-free, when suddenly I'm anxious. When this happens, I make myself take a break from what I'm doing and go for a meditative, mindful walk to reduce anxiety.
No matter the nature or type of your anxiety, walking meditation can work to help you feel better in any given moment. Walking meditation comes to us from the Buddhist tradition and is a component of their peaceful, centered way of living and being. Because it induces inner peace and calm, walking meditation reduces anxiety. Here are some other reasons why it works:
- You remove yourself from the place where you are anxious.
- You are moving, releasing pent-up energy, and engaging your whole body.
- You do things that pull yourself out of your head and redirect your thoughts.
- You notice things other than your anxiety because you've distracted yourself from anxiety.
How to Use Walking Meditation to Reduce Anxiety
While there are structured ways to engage in walking meditations, the liberating truth is that because you are working to reduce your own, personal anxiety, you can walk and meditate any way that works for you.
A common concern about doing walking meditations "right" is pace. Traditionally, walking is done very slowly when meditating to allow the mind and body to slow down and simply notice (Water Walking Meditation: Get a Calm Mind with Intense Focus). This does not work for me one bit. I've tried it, and it only serves to increase anxiety and agitation. When I let myself move at a faster pace, I find that I can still meditate and effectively reduce my anxiety. So pick the pace that feels comfortable to you.
Meditation involves focusing the mind. For most of us, the brain will never be devoid of thoughts, but we can learn to let them come and go and to narrow our focus so we are paying attention to something other than anxiety.
When you engage in walking meditation to reduce anxiety, you might consider exploring any of these meditations:
- Mindfulness --; Turn your attention to what your senses are taking in as you walk.
- Gratitude --; As you walk, ponder the things in your life for which you feel grateful.
- Self-appreciation --: Feel your body move and appreciate it. Think of your strengths, including the fact that you are taking control by going on a walking meditation.
You absolutely can reduce anxiety now, right in those intense moments, by stepping out and engaging in a mindfulness meditation. Walking mindfully on a regular basis will also reduce anxiety in the long run. Happy trails.