Walking Meditation Longwood FL

For me—especially on a fine summer morning—a contemplative barefoot circuit of my dewy backyard can sound a whole lot more enticing than hunkering down on a cushion inside. And I seem not to be alone. Across the country, it’s getting easier to find opportunities to meditate in action.

Orlando Zen Circle
(407) 644-1423
2625 Lafayette Ave.
Winter Park, FL
Specialty
Zen

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Ratna Shri Tibetan Meditation Center
(727) 455-5340
1730 Sherwood Street
Clearwater, FL
Specialty
Tibetan

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Dancing Waters Sangha
Lotus Room
Tampa, FL
Specialty
Zen / Thich Nhat Hanh

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Jacksonville Zen Sangha
(904) 398-6905
2014 Perry Place
Jacksonville, FL
Specialty
Zen - Rinzai

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Fort Myers FL - Samudrabadra Buddhist Center
(941) 362-2030
2016 North Lockwood Ridge Road
Sarasota, FL
Specialty
Kadampa Buddhism

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Orlando Kadampa Buddhist Center
(727) 797-9770
Magnolia Quarters
Orlando, FL
Specialty
Kadampa Buddhism

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Gainesville Karma Thegsum Choling
(352) 472-2744
P.O. Box 358824
Gainesville, FL
Specialty
Tibetan Karma Kagyu

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Dhamma Wheel Meditation Society
(727) 536-9241
2207 Bellaire Rd. B-24
Clearwater, FL
Specialty
Theravada Buddhist

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Kagyu Shedrup Chöling
(305) 751-7402
Lama Residence
El Portal, FL
Specialty
Tibetan Buddhist

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The Live Oak Sangha
(352) 379-1109
6408 NW 33rd Terrace
Gainesville, FL
Specialty
Zen

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Walking Meditation

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By Susan Enfield Esrey

Meditation: It’s all about sitting still, inside a room, going inward. Right? Well, not necessarily. Buddhist tradition has long incorporated a more active technique known as walking meditation. Popularized in the West by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh and other teachers, walking meditation often crops up at meditation retreats as a periodic (and often welcome) break from long sessions of sitting. (To learn more, see “Walking Your Mind,” on page 78.)

For me—especially on a fine summer morning—a contemplative barefoot circuit of my dewy backyard can sound a whole lot more enticing than hunkering down on a cushion inside. And I seem not to be alone. Across the country, it’s getting easier to find opportunities to meditate in action. Dude ranches, sea kayaking outfitters, and wellness retreats now offer programs that combine basic mindfulness practice with everything from backpacking and rock climbing to horseback riding and paddling.

And why not? A growing body of scientific research supports meditation’s physiological and psychological benefits, including boosting the immune system, helping lower blood pressure, and reducing stress, anxiety, and depression. “Taking mindfulness outside, into the natural world, is another way of connecting the dots,” says Kurt Hoelting, who leads contemplative sea kayaking trips in Alaska. “It helps make it apparent not just intellectually, but also in our bodies, that this process of engagement with the present moment is an avenue to healing and deep restoration.”

For some, these activities are a way to explore mindfulness through a pastime they already know and love. Others have established a meditation practice but want to broaden their experience. For just about anyone, these “conscious” outings are a great way to slow down, savor silence (which helps increase awareness of what’s really going on, both inside and out), and reconnect with nature—along with one’s own mind, body, and spirit.
We’ve rounded up some of the best inner–outer adventures to get you thinking about life off the zafu.

Barefoot hiking
Sometimes, freeing your feet can be a revolutionary act. For walking meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh recommends ditching footwear. “You can feel the floor and connect with the earth more easily without shoes,” he writes in Walking Meditation (Sounds True, 2006). “The flow between you and Mother Earth becomes stronger. The longer you practice walking with this connection, the more your heart will be softened and opened, and the more you will feel nurtured, solid, and taken care of by the earth.”

Most “barefooters” don’t meditate in any sort of deliberate way, and chances are, they’ve never heard of Thich Nhat Hanh. But his words certainly would resonate clearly. “Going barefoot makes you feel more connected with nature, that you’re part of a bigger universe,” says Jim Guttmann, a member of Barefoot Hikers of Minnesota, an informal group that gathers for regular boot-free rambles.

Author: Susan Enfield Esrey

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