How to Meditate and Exercise by Connecting to Nature
By Mica D’Alesandro
Wondering how to meditate and exercise? Walking outside is a great and fun way to exercise, untangle your mind, and connect your spirit to the natural world around you. From local parks to state parks, from warm beaches to snowy paths, from cliffs to waterfalls, there is always something to explore that’s easy on the eyes and on the wallet. Even just a little exercise outdoors every week is helpful to your body and mind.
The physical benefits of walking have been known for thousands of years. Hippocrates, an ancient Greek physician, said, “Walking is man’s best medicine.” Thomas Jefferson and Henry David Thoreau were also strong proponents of walking. Jefferson even said, “Walking is the best possible exercise.”
But not all kinds of walking are created equal. Walking in front of a TV on a treadmill at the gym is vastly different than walking by yourself in nature. In the first example, you’re exercising your body. In the second example, you can exercise your body and your mind if you engage in a walking meditation.
Like all meditations, a walking meditation takes practice. Similar to seated meditations, it is easy for the mind to wander while walking. Unless you control it, the mind will keep hashing out things that happened in the past and try to predict things that will happen in the future. According to Thoreau, “I am alarmed when it happens that I have walked a mile into the woods bodily, without getting there in spirit.”
To meditate while walking, you must become mindful of your experience and surroundings. Feel the wind, the sun, and the rain. Pay attention to all the different sounds of nature. Look at the colors in the trees, buildings, and clouds around you. Feel your body in motion, and all the sensations that arise. And of course watch out for anything you may trip over or bump into! In other words, don’t withdraw your attention from the outside world. Connect your soul with nature, and you will find happiness in yourself.
Finding yourself in a walking meditation is a beautiful experience. You will connect your senses, become grateful, and realize how beautiful and spiritually connected everything is. Like all religious and spiritual beliefs, you can experience something divine in nature, feel the energy and essence of life, and gather insights that have been practiced for thousands of years.
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Mica D’Alesandro is a freelance writer living in Baltimore, Maryland.