I have had many wonderful experiences with walking meditation: alone at retreats, in nature, with my sangha (meditation group), to name a few. Two of my most memorable have been walking with Thich Nhat Hanh & monks from the monasteries. Several years ago, I walked with him surrounded by young children at Blue Cliff Monastery as thunderstorms rumbled in the distance and recently, during a Day of Mindfulness, with monks and other practitioners as part of https://pathofhappiness.org/
Now, my 3rd most memorable mindful walk occurred many years ago on a rainy day with my then young children. Memorable, but not. at. all. in the same way…haha.
Here is an excerpt from that original journal entry:
Today, I introduced my kids to walking meditation…who knew it could be so complicated?
First, how we would line up? Who knew this could be an issue?
Since both wished to go first, we eventually chose my 7-year-old son to lead us. We were in a small room as it was raining outdoors. Walking too fast, walking into each other…lots of giggles. Which is good. When I would try to guide them or slow it down, the result was push back, “Why do we have to do this?”
So, I decided to use visualization to slow the pace down and focus.
“Let’s pretend we are in a foot of snow as we carefully place our footstep.” I created the scenario of being playing in the snow after a blizzard and guiding through a kid-friendly walk to an imaginary winter wonderland destination.
That worked, Success! We were slowly and mindfully walking and everyone was happy.
Next, I let them choose a scenario. They chose- “Hot Sand.” Yup. Hot. Sand.
Well…do I even need to share the quick downward spiral that occurred. As the pace picked up, we first started with giggles, ok, that’s positive. Then, the running started. Into each other as often as possible. I lost them. Totally lost them. As they ran around pushing each other.
We went from Calm to Chaos within 10 minutes.
This is a Learning Experience, still evolving.
Below are some of my improvements to this activity.
- Ask the kids to think of an ooey, gooey, sticky material that would be hard to walk through, yet lots of fun. (You want them to go slow)
- Once they pick their gooey stuff, we then create the scene. This can be done as a group or allow time for students to visualize their personal mission.
- Pick a physical focal point in the room or visualize a “Destination” to walk to.
- Walk mindfully and slowly through the “goo” to that focal point or
Frame it as a “mission” where we walk 5 steps to the Destination and then 5 steps returning back to home base. You can pick the number of steps that works best for your child or situation.
- Simple focus on the adventure of the mission walking slowly and deliberately to your destination.
- Add in breathing. Breathe in, as you pick up your foot. Breathe out, as you place your foot.
- Count your steps.
- Focus on your body movements. What part of your body is working really hard to help you walk? What is your ankle, your heel, your toes, your knee doing?