If Meditation Doesn't Work For You, This Fresh Twist May Be Exactly The Zen You Need

One thing everyone who has sought help for their mental health has heard time and time again is, “try meditation!”.

This is a very well-meaning sentiment but when your thoughts are racing and you feel like your mind is betraying you, the idea of sitting with your thoughts or sitting still and emptying your mind is near-impossible.

That being said, meditation IS good for mental health.

In fact, a 2022 study found that meditation was as effective as prolonged exposure therapy at reducing PTSD symptoms and depression, and it was more effective than PTSD health education.

So, what does this mean for those of us that just haven’t been able to tap into this practice?

Well, according to the experts at Go Outdoors, we should try “walking meditation.”

What is walking meditation and how do you do it?

Waking meditation sounds almost counter-productive but Natalie Byrne from Go Outdoors said: “Walking meditation is a great way to enhance your overall well-being whilst encouraging a deeper connection with the environment.

“Being in nature is a natural stress-relief and outdoor activity like walking provides exercise that releases endorphins, which can improve mood and reduce symptoms of depression.”

To get started with this new way of wandering, Byrne has offered her advice on getting into the swing of walking meditation:

  • Find a quiet space: Choose a location where you can walk uninterrupted, preferably in nature or a peaceful environment

  • Intention setting: Decide on your purpose for the practice, this could be focusing on mindfulness, relaxation, or any other intention that suits you in the moment

  • Begin walking slowly: Take slow, deliberate steps, syncing your breathing with your movement. Pay attention to the sensations in your feet as they lift, move forward, and touch the ground again

  • Stay present: Stay fully present in the moment as you walk. Maintain awareness of your surroundings, body, and breath, gently bringing your attention back if it wanders

  • Reflect and close: When you’re ready to finish your walking meditation, gradually slow down your pace and come to a stop. Take a moment to reflect on your experience, and transition back to your daily activities with gratitude

Byrne added: “Remember that walking meditation is a practice, and it’s okay if your mind wanders or you find it challenging to stay focused. The key is to approach it with patience, openness, and self-compassion.

With summer just around the corner, it could be the perfect time to pick it up!