Urban Mindfulness--The Book!


This form does not yet contain any fields.
    Blog Index
    The journal that this archive was targeting has been deleted. Please update your configuration.

    Entries in walking (3)


    Why You Can't Meditate (And What to Do About It) - Can't Sit Still?

    By Jonathan S. Kaplan, Ph.D.

    This article is the second in a series on obstacles to meditation.  Many of us have the intention to meditate regularly, yet our actual behavior can fall short of the goal.  Rather than getting stuck in inactivity, regret, or self-criticism, it’s most constructive to figure out the nature of the difficulty and address it productively.  This article is for people who have difficulty remaining seated during meditation.  

    Obstacle:  I can’t sit still.  

    Whenever you try a seated meditation, you feel restless and jittery.  It’s almost like ants are crawling all over your skin--on the inside!  Almost involuntarily, you find yourself squirming, wriggling, and ultimately ending your meditation session abruptly.  Sound familiar?

    Many folks do have trouble with seated meditations, especially as beginners to the practice.  In my experience, such people often have issues with anxiety or ADD/ADHD, too.  The solution is relatively simple:  don’t sit; walk instead.  

    Classically, meditation is practiced in four postures:  sitting, standing, walking, and lying down.  The idea basically is that we can be meditating in any position of the body.  So, instead of forcing yourself to sit, a more compassionate, effective approach is to try a walking meditation.  

    You can practice this in two ways.  First, you can attend to the physical sensations of walking, like the feeling on the soles of your feet when you make contact with the floor (and the absence of sensation when you lift each foot).  Recently, I sprained my ankle, and I’ve been acutely aware of the feeling in my foot (mostly pain) as I walk.  Each time I take stairs, I do so slowly, gingerly, and mindfully.  What normally would have been a frustrating experience has become yet another opportunity for practice.  

    Second, you can make a mental note based on your physical movements.  For example, you might attend to the process of walking by thinking “left” each time you take a step with your left foot, then “right” each time you move your right foot.  Alternatively, as suggested by the meditation teacher Joseph Goldstein, you could note “lift, move, place” in synchrony with each step.  Depending on the kind of meditation that you’re doing, you might recite other words or phrases with each step.  For me, “peace” and “love” are two nice ones.  

    We don’t need a lot of space to do a walking meditation.  It can involve taking about a dozen steps forward, turning around slowly, and then coming back the other way.  

    So, next time you meditate, don’t just sit there!  Get up, walk around, and try one of these suggestions.  

    Also, if you’re looking for other movement meditations, check out this article, 10 Unexpected Ways to Meditate, on Greatist by Sophia Breene.  Thanks for the tips, Sophia!



    Mindful Walking in NYC: The Great Saunter

    Submitted by Jonathan S. Kaplan, Ph.D.

    New York City is notorious for its stressful, fast pace.  And, with the coming of warmer weather, there will be plenty of athletic races in which New Yorkers can strut their stuff (quickly, of course).  While it is possible to be mindful while running, perhaps you've wondered if there is such a thing as a mindful walking event in NYC.  Well, this one comes close:  on the first Saturday in May, Shorewalkers will be hosting The Great Saunter, an all-day walk around the island of Manhattan.  The route spans 32 miles, so there should be plenty of opportunities to appreciate our surrounding coastline.  The organization estimates that people should be able to complete the walk in 12 hours (at a rate of 3 miles per hour with breaks), and there are NO prizes for first, second, or third place.  Yes, that's right:  the whole purpose is simply to go for a walk (okay, a really long walk).  So, if you're looking for a fun way to enjoy the spring, why not consider participating in this mindful, memorable stroll?

    Letting Go, While Being Followed...

    By Jenny Taitz, Ph.D.

    Do you have a minute for the environment? Can I ask you a few questions about your hair? Do you like comedy? Spare change?

    In a single morning, 3 people have approached me on busy corners in the midst of the morning rush. To be honest, I find it tempting to look away or pick up my pace. When I encountered the first greeter, I picked up my cadence and was then followed for several feet with inquiries on my hair and by my own shame. I wonder if it would be possible to frame interruptions as moments to:

    1. Engender Compassion: For a moment, I begin to imagine how I would feel trying to attract attention in the midst of traffic and unpleasant weather. It can be difficult to be mindful of individuals’ circumstances. A person passing you a menu on the corner has dreams, pains, family members who are ill…

    2. Let go of Judgments: Judgments often fuel negative emotions and letting go of thoughts related to how unfair or annoying interruptions are may be instrumental in maintaining equanimity.

    3. Relax: Relaxing one’s expression also eases one’s experience. Have you ever tried half smiling? Releasing facial tension in your forehead and raising your upper lips ever so slightly (picture the Mona Lisa or Buddha) often changes your mood. This concept probably sounds too good to be true and like a pitch you heard on your commute. Give it a try.

    Have a minute to let go?
    (Photo provided courtesy of Andy Cross)