Walking Meditation Owatonna MN

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.

Clouds in Water Zen Center
(651) 222-6968
308 Prince St.
St. Paul, MN
Specialty
Zen

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Rivers' Way
(612) 253-5133
3357 36th Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN
Specialty
Buddhist (non-sectarian)

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Awaken to Life
(612) 991-7071
Mound (Minneapolis), MN
Specialty
Mindfulness/Buddhist/Yoga

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Blooming Heart Sangha
(612) 724-8168
Heartwood Mindfulness Practice Center
South Mpls, MN
Specialty
Mindfulness / Thich Nhat Hanh

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Diamond Way Buddhist Center, TwinCities
(612) 825-5055
1701 W. Lake Street
Minneapolis, MN
Specialty
Tibetan Karma Kagyu

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Minnesota Sakya Center - Sakya Thupten Dargye Ling
(612) 827-3345
3441 Bryant Avenue South #101
Minneapolis, MN
Specialty
Tibetan

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Shambhala Meditation Center of Minneapolis
(612) 331-7737
2931 Grand Street NE
Minneapolis, MN
Specialty
Tibetan Shambhala

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Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center
(612) 825-7658
3206 Holmes Ave.
Minneapolis, MN
Specialty
Zen - Soto

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Dharma Field Zen Center
(612) 928-4868
3118 West 49th St.
Minneapolis, MN
Specialty
Zen

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Northfield Buddhist Meditation Group
(507) 645-6987
313 1/2 Division St.
Northfield, MN
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Buddhist

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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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