Do you often go to bed with a mind full of racing thoughts or anxiety? You may try drinking valerian tea or taking melatonin, but they may only offer temporary relief. It’s time you traded nighttime rumination for nighttime walking meditation. Walking meditation helps you become mindful while reducing stress, which can help you quiet your mind and fall asleep easier. Nighttime walking meditation gives you a chance to enjoy the calm of night when the world’s less stimulating, which is perfect for centering yourself. Here’s how to turn an everyday activity into a powerful tool to calm your nervous system.
Before Walking Meditation
It’s good to have a pre-walking meditation routine, to let your mind know it’s time to slow down and get present. Because you’re walking at night, you may need a light source, like a headlamp. The benefit ofheadlampsover flashlights is they allow your arms to move naturally while you walk, which can help you feel grounded and centered. Wear comfortable walking clothes that let you move freely and shoes that don’t hurt your feet. You can also queue up a walking meditation playlist before leaving, so you don’t have to break your focus to find music that helps you get into the zone. Once you’ve put on your shoes, you’re ready to meditate.
During Walking Meditation
One of the best things about walking meditation is you can do it anywhere. Try to choose a quiet spot or path where you won’t be disturbed or have to watch for a lot of cars. Don’t think too hard about which path to take, just let your body go where it wants. During your walk, your only responsibility is to notice your body and the way it moves through the world. Focus on what it feels like when the soles of your feet connect to the ground, how your calf muscles bunch in your legs, how your feet arch as you take a step. Pay attention to how weight shifts from your back leg to your front leg as you walk, how it feels as your muscles contract and relax. Tune into the sensation of air filling your lungs as you inhale, breathing deep into your diaphragm and filling it from the bottom up. Exhale with intention, focusing on how air rushes past your lips or through your nostrils as you breathe out from the top of your diaphragm to the bottom. If you like, you can count your breaths, inhaling for five counts and exhaling for seven. Give yourself permission to move slowly, to experience each step as if it’s your first. The goal of walking meditation is to walk naturally and intentionally with small steps. Enjoy the opportunity to slow down and come back to yourself.
After Walking Meditation
When you return home, take a few minutes to stop, close your eyes, and scan your body. Do you feel less tense? Is your mind calmer? Notice the bliss of the unburdened mind. As you get ready for bed, continue to be mindful of the present. Focus on individual sights, smells, and sounds around you. This keeps you in a meditative state, so your mind doesn’t go on autopilot mode and manifest more intrusive thoughts before bed. Keep bright lights to a minimum, so you don’t stimulate your mind. Instead, read or continue listening to your meditation playlist. Hopefully, you drift off easily and wake up feeling refreshed. Nighttime walking meditation can not only help you sleep at night, but feel less stressed throughout the day. When your mind refuses to calm down and rest, take it for a walk.