Explore the different types of walking meditations and how mindful movement reduces stress and promotes overall health.
Mindful movement is a form of movement that is focused on the present moment and being in the body. The idea is to bring awareness to your body, mind and spirit, which can be done through walking meditations, yoga, dance, or any other type of repetitive movement.
In this blog, we will explore how mindful movement helps reduce stress and promote overall health as well as explore some different types of mindful movement and walking meditations and the best ways to capitalize on their benefits.
Mindful Movement is a technique that has been used for many centuries in different cultures around the world. In recent years, it has been gaining popularity in Western countries as well. The practice of Mindful Movement can be described as an exercise that combines mindful breathing with walking at a slow pace to promote self-awareness and reduce stress levels.
Mindful movement is very similar to any yoga or mindfulness practice; this is because they are all governed by the same principle of focusing one’s mind on the present moment.
When practicing mindful movement, the focus is on how our body moves, how our breathing changes, and the position of our bodies. This increases self-awareness towards our physical and mental wellbeing, reduces stress and anxiety while also strengthening the connection between our mind and body.
There are four major types of mindful movement, including:
Doing yoga and stretches not only aids in meditation, but also releases stress and tension physically from the body. It involves gentle movements designed to raise our focus and energy while lowering our anxiety.
Breathing exercises are simple movements that we can do while sitting or laying down between work. It involves intentionally elongating or shortening our breaths and observing how our body reacts.
While often done together with seated meditation, breathing exercises are crucial to yoga and walking meditation as well.
Mindful movement can be implemented into almost any workout regimen, which is a foundational principle behind meditation for athletes. This includes aerobics, weight lifting, push-ups, pull-ups, and more.
When practicing mindfulness during exercise, the important thing is to maintain focus on what our bodies are doing and how our breath synchronizes with our movement throughout the workout. This improved sense of awareness helps trigger the flow state as well as improve focus, drive, and even contribute to the post-workout recovery period.
Walking meditation is a type of mindful movement where you focus on every step you take while walking, such as noticing how your foot moves when it hits the ground or what your hands do when they swing back and forth. It is an effective way to practice self-awareness and mindfulness, and many who practice it leave the experience feeling more grounded in the present moment.
Mindful movement can greatly improve our physical and mental health, both while practicing and long after we are done.
Some of the top benefits of mindful movement include:
Just like mindfulness meditation and yoga, mindful movement reduces stress and lowers our anxiety. In fact, mindful movement improved the stress and anxiety levels of more than 150 students at Penn State.
In turn, lower stress and anxiety can improve our physical health as well. Stress is a risk factor for a number of cardiovascular conditions, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and poor blood flow. Meanwhile, lower anxiety may also prevent depression and improve one’s overall outlook in life.
Walking and stretching may seem like ineffective exercises when compared to more strenuous workouts like lifting weights or cardiovascular training, but both are great forms of cardio too.
Walking on its own can significantly boost weight loss, improve mental health, and reduce the risk of both cardiovascular disease and depression. Mindful walking, or walking meditation, offers further heart health benefits and may even stave off cognitive decline.
Taking the time to concentrate on our breathing, how we are feeling, and how we are moving gives our minds a chance to slow down and rest. This gives our brain the chance to process what is happening within our bodies and around us.
This allows us to recharge and focus our attention on other things afterward; even a brief 10-minute guided mindful meditation boosts attention control and allows us to hone in our productivity.
Individually, both exercise and mindfulness can enhance sleep quality. Together, mindful movement can greatly ease both the mind and body, allowing us to fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
Walking meditation allows us to empty our mind of distracting thoughts and escape overstimulation. At the same time, physical movement gives us a chance to release tension and nervous energy while relaxing our muscles.
Mindful movement is a great alternative to regular mindful meditation, especially for people who are prone to falling asleep while meditating.
At its core, mindful movement only has a handful of requirements: focusing on our breathing, our mental state, and the movement of our body, especially in relation to our environment.
If you find your thoughts straying and your attention redirecting to work or other people, make sure to bring it back to these three things.
Here are a few tips to get started with walking meditation:
1. Set a convenient time and place for your walking meditation.
2. As you start walking, take notice of your breathing pattern and empty your mind of any distracting thoughts, including those concerning work, family, and life in general.
3. Use your breathing to redirect your thoughts when you get distracted. You can do this by taking a deep breath, holding it for a few seconds, and focusing on how it makes your lungs feel.
4. Keep track of how your body feels, how your muscles move, your posture, and how you carry yourself.
5. Observe your immediate surroundings, but do not dwell on them. Simply acknowledge what you see, hear, and smell — especially how it affects your body and your walk — and then move on.
6. Focus on your gait or the rhythm of your walk.
Many recommend unplugging and leaving technology behind while practicing mindfulness. This is because having our phones or gadgets in our hands can distract us from our breathing, mental state, and movement. However, this is not always the case. In much the same way that technology can distract us, it can also enhance our mindfulness.
Healium supplements the benefits of meditation with actionable data via neurofeedback. Healium gives users a better insight into how their brains respond to what they are doing, allowing them to identify what works and what doesn’t so they can fine-tune their mindful movement practices.
Ideally, users looking to improve their mindful movement sessions would view the VR meditation experiences while focusing their breathing, or choose our nature-based VR experiences that focus on moving through the environment, like the Tree of Life.
To learn more about how Healium works, watch the video below. A new VR experience is added every 60 days!
Sarah Hill, a former interactive TV news journalist at NBC, ABC, and CBS affiliates in Missouri, gained recognition for pioneering interactive news broadcasting using Google Hangouts. She is now the CEO of Healium, the world’s first biometrically powered VR/AR channel, helping those with stress, anxiety, insomnia, and other struggles through biofeedback storytelling. With patents, clinical validation, and over seven million views, she has reshaped the landscape of immersive media.