Walking with a child or group of children is a perfect time to teach them about walking meditation. Begin by picking a path or trail your group already knows so the concentration need not be on finding your way. Begin by walking in single file or with kids alongside you, but do not take the lead at the head of the line or pack, because you may be setting a pace too fast for them to comfortably maintain.
Before you set out check to see that no one is thirsty or hungry as these can be distractions to the lesson. If everyone carries a small water bottle, piece of fruit or nuts and a pack of tissues all needs should be met for half an hour, at least. Don’t forget the sunscreen, maybe hats with brims and dress appropriately. All the comfort features taken care of leave time to clear the mind for thoughts on the day’s meditation. Now, set out on your trail, walking at a slow pace for half a minute to warm up the muscles. Tell your group that today you are learning a walking meditation. Breathing and walking pattern.
The first part of the walk is learning to coordinate breathing with the walking rhythm. Here’s how to explain: ”Take 2 walking steps for every breath in. And, take 2 walking steps for every breath out.” ”In addition, let arms swing at sides in the pattern called opposition. This means as the right foot steps forward, the left arm swings forward. And, as the left foot steps forward, the right arm swings forward.” Tell the students about the first 2 parts of the meditation: 1. Taking 2 steps for each breath in or out; 2. Swinging arms in opposition to legs. Practice this pattern of regulated breathing with arms swinging in opposition for 5 minutes or more while the group remains silent and concentrates on making the pattern second nature.
Thoughts on kindness:
The next part of the walking meditation follows without a break in the rhythmic walking pattern, and that is to keep up the pace and turn thoughts to how to show more care with family and friends at home and school. Ask the kids to think and plan one way they can do a helpful task after the meditation. Ask the kids to use the rest of the walk for quiet time while keeping up the pace they’ve just established. If you are walking with school age kids tell the benefits of coordinating walking and breathing. Explain that breath is a link between the body and mind, and when upset or stressed just doing the regular breathing and walking combination will calm the mind enough for a solution to more easily come to mind. When walking with preschoolers gear the walking meditation to learning how to swing arms forward and back in opposition to the walking pattern. Ask the kids to think of ways to share nicely with other children. Leave out the directions for regular breathing. Explain that walking is a time to quietly think about what may be bothering them and ways to later get along with friends and family. Finish the walking meditation by sitting down in a circle and giving each person a turn to share a way they thought of to be kind to someone.
By Susan (Shuchi) Helene Kramer
Susan Helene Kramer (Shuchi) has been a devotee of Sri Gurudev Swami Satchidananda and a Yoga practitioner since 1976. She is the mother of 5 and writes on practical spirituality, dance, family and social issues. Her books are listed at her web site: SusanKramer.com