Walking Meditation Petersburg VA

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.

Mindfulness Practice Center of Fairfax
(703) 938-1377
P.O. Box 130
Oakton, VA
Specialty
Zen

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Cloud Floating Free Sangha
(434) 825-0145
Community of Mindful Living of Charlottesville
Charlottesville, VA
Specialty
Zen

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Longchenpa Institute
(540) 752-4553
P O Box 1234
Stafford, VA
Specialty
Tibetan Nyingma

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Ekoji Buddhist Temple
(703) 239-0500
6500 Lake Haven Lane
Fairfax Station, VA
Specialty
Buddhist

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New River Zen Community
(540) 639-4109
2121 Charlton Lane
Radford, VA
Specialty
Zen

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Ligmincha Institute
(434) 977-6161
313 2nd St. SE #207
Charlottesville, VA
Specialty
Tibetan Bon-Buddhism

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Meditation Center of D.C.
(703) 329-0350
3325 Franconia Rd.
Alexandria, VA
Specialty
Theravada Buddhist

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Mindfulness Community of Hampton Roads
(757) 625-6367
612 Westover Avenue
Norfolk, VA
Specialty
Zen

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Potomac Zen Sangha, World Zen Fellowship
(703) 549-9181
1014 King St. #2
Alexandria, VA
Specialty
Zen

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Blue Ridge Zen Group
(434) 973-5435
Charlottesville, VA
Specialty
Zen - Rinzai

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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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