Check out this Guided Walking Meditation created with help from my friend Alan Grimm
OK! Here is a good checklist for your walking meditation class.
Check the weather. As long there is no thunder or lightning; you can have a great walking meditation session. I have meditated and walked in the snow, light rainy, and windy conditions. Check your email for any last minute cancellations. For night walks, please bring a flash light.
Walking barefoot or with shoes - I suggest you try different combinations. I have walked barefoot, used flip-flops (can be noisy but rythmic :-) or good walking shoes. Some people prefer sandals. I suggest you keep an alternate pair in your car. Appropriate footwear is recommended if you want to protect yourself from accidental foot injuries or when we are walking at night.
Light, loose clothes are preferable. Avoid tight clothes. Jeans, shorts and t-shirt or your work-out clothes that fit comfortably are good choices. Please bring an umbrella and warm clothing if conditions are rainy or cold.
Folding chair/mat for sitting - most walking meditation sessions are done in beautiful locations. I prefer to sit before and after my walking meditation session. I also like to lie in the grass and enjoy nature.
Walking meditation will trigger your creativity. If you want to capture your thoughts, bring a pen and a note book.
Avoid caffeine or sugary drinks. Fruits, nuts and a bottle of cold water may be good to have in your car. Kleenex and wet wipes are recommended.
If you are sensitive to bugs or the sun, these are handy to have around.
Keep your phone handy in case of emergency, but set it to the OFF position and leave it in your purse or pocket. Cell phones can be very distracting, they will disrupt your experience.
Walking Labyrinths - Chicago Suburbs
A walking labyrinth is used for walking meditation. It is a single winding path from the outer edge in a circuitous way to the center. Labyrinths are used world-wide as a way to quiet the mind, calm anxieties, recover balance in life, enhance creativity and encourage meditation, insight, self-reflection and stress reduction.
I use the following locations. While they allow public to use the labyrinths, it is a good idea to reach out to the locations before you go there
Lord of Life Lutheran Church
Address: 119 W Wise Rd, Schaumburg, IL 60193
Phone: (847) 895-8877
Earth Wisdom Labyrinth - UUCE Elgin
39W830 Highland Ave
Elgin, IL 60124
Please contact Dr K if you have additional questions or comments.
Some of my students complain that while they love meditation, they can’t seem to find time for it in their busy schedule. When is the best time to meditate? How long should I meditate?
My answers are – try different times for meditation and find that suit you the best. I prefer early morning meditation sessions but I have used late night sessions (just prior to going to bed). On weekends, I prefer afternoons. Try different time slots and see what works best for you. I aim for 15 minutes of meditation. I also use 5 or 10 min music pieces for shorter sessions (Check this link http://meditation-magic.com/the-balloon-meditation/ for free 5 min meditation that you can download to your phone or computer).
I spent two years of my high school in the coastal Indian town of Visakhapatnam. My sister (Dr Suguna / Editor of this blog) was a college professor of a women’s college (gender only college are not uncommon in India). I feel privileged that faculty members from this college continue to enrich my life. One of them, Dr. Vijayalakshmi (Retired Professor of Languages – Hindi) shared this note with us.
It is when our lives are full and busy that we need our daily meditation to help center us for the day. Ironically, when we get busy, the first thing that tends to get cut back is our meditation practice. We have less time and a lot on our plates, so it makes sense that this happens, but in the end it doesn’t really help us.
Most of us know from experience that we perform much better when we give ourselves time each day to sit in silence. And the more we have to do, the more we need that solitary, quiet time for the day ahead. As a result, while it may sound counter intuitive, it is during busy times that we most need to spend more time in meditation rather than less.
Expanding our morning meditation by just 10 minutes can make a big difference, as can the addition of short meditations into our daily schedule. Unless we are in the midst of a crisis we always have five or 10 minutes to spare. The key is, that spending that time in meditation, is the most fruitful choice. We could be getting our dishes done or heading into work earlier instead, so it’s important that we come to value the importance of meditation in the context of all the other things competing for attention in our lives.
We can create more time in the morning, either by getting up earlier or to prepare breakfast the night before and use the extra time for meditation. We can also add short meditation breaks into our schedule, from five minutes before or after lunch to a meditation session at night before we go to sleep. When we come from a place of centered calm, we are more effective in handling our busy schedules and more able to keep it all in perspective. If more time in meditation means less time feeling anxious, panicky, and overwhelmed, then it’s certainly worth the extra time.
"Everything good will happen in its own good time if you let it, and don't worry yourself in the meanwhile."
~ Lao Tse
I asked one of my friends, Cathy M, a free-lance writer to share her reflections about a recent labyrinth/walking meditation session. I love her metaphor of the curved labyrinth (in this case – a Chartres Design Labyrinth for those who are interested in technical details) to that of her life and mission. We all can relate to the twists and turns of our lives – but I love her insight of embracing the flow of life that takes us to what means most to us. While your experiences and insights may not be the same, I hope that you will ponder on the meaning of life as you wander around your labyrinth. Here is one of my favorite quotes on life and our thoughts -
“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”
~ Henry David Thoreau
Is this labyrinth broken?
By Cathy M
When a friend my own age died unexpectedly and, of course, unfairly, I took stock of my life and committed to finally writing that novel. Although I’d majored in English, made my living as a corporate writer, and read a fair amount, I had no idea how to write fiction, let alone a whole novel. Yet, I decided that between parenting two toddlers, working part-time and running a household, I could squeeze in enough writing time to finish by my fortieth birthday, in four years.
Our plans are like that. Linear. I’ll start here, work hard and finish at the goal. We plan and expect to find the path is a direct one. But life, God, fate, the universe, higher power, Spirit—whatever you choose to believe in—reminds us, or me at least, that it’s about the journey. And it’s almost never linear.
Of course I’ve seen the posters: “Life is a journey, not a destination,” and all the rest. And at some level, I knew that. Only I didn’t live that way. My to-do list said I was to finish my novel by my fortieth birthday. I’d committed. And therefore, I would do whatever it took to accomplish that goal. If I didn’t, then I would have failed.
And, I was cruising along, cranking out pages every week. Reading books about writing books and educating myself on the publishing industry. I subscribed to a couple of writing magazines and even joined a weekly writer’s group. And then, two years in, my father died. Unexpectedly. Unfairly.
I didn’t write for a year.
I blew my self-imposed deadline. And yes, I berated myself. Over and over again. Until one sweltering July morning when a friend invited me to walk a labyrinth, something I’d never done but was open to trying, especially when I learned it only takes about 30 minutes and then I could get on with my to-do list.
So I went. It was relatively easy. Follow the path, walk slowly, concentrate on your steps and your breathing and, if you’re so inclined, meditate.
If you’ve seen a labyrinth you know the path is anything but linear. And while it wasn’t obvious that the stone walkway would eventually lead me to the center, the goal, I trusted it would.
I trusted until I’d been walking for about 15 minutes and noticed that the path had taken me to an outer ring almost as far from the center as when I started. “Hey, wait a second,” I thought. “I should be closer to the center by now. Did I take a wrong turn? Is this labyrinth broken? Am I ever going to get there?”
I inhaled deeply and, resigned, continued walking, slowly, wondering how this path, with all its bends and turns, would ever take me to the center. As my friend had suggested, I became aware of my thoughts, acknowledged them and then let them go as best I could. And, as he had suggested, I focused on the sun warming my shoulders and face. I became aware of the giant oak trees nearby, how their leaves wiggled in the subtle breeze. I listened to the sound my steps made on the stones. And, I noticed my breath.
Then, to my astonishment, I saw how the path ended in the center. Just a few minutes ago, I was at the edge of the labyrinth and now, here, it was clear. I was steps away from the goal. My excitement escaped as a giggle.
Such a simple thing, to follow a path to a goal. But not so simple when the path is not linear, as we expect and plan. That requires trust. Sometimes blind trust. As I wound my way back out through the labyrinth, this time knowing it would lead me back to the start, I was aware of times in my life when I’ve felt so far from my goal. Far from clarity. From peace. From myself.
I thought about my novel. My dad. And the missed deadline.
My grief took me away from writing for a long time. I wasn’t sure I’d ever return to it, let alone finish the book. But eventually, I did. As I put one foot in front of the other, making my way out of the labyrinth, I realized that my father’s death put me more in touch with my own raw emotions, which, later, made it easier to imagine those of my characters. As a result, the story came faster once I returned to it, and the characters were deeper because my experience informed my work.
In the weeks since walking the labyrinth, I try to remind myself that I am exactly where I am supposed to be in my journey, even if that seems far from the goal. I remember the sun, the trees, the sound of my feet and my breath, and that if I become aware, I’ll find joy, love and happiness right where I am. Those experiences are accessible to me even when I’m not standing in the center.
I remember, too, that the labyrinth isn’t broken. As long as I continue to put one foot in front of the other and trust, I’ll look up soon and see that, even with all its bends, this path is leading me to the center.
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.