The super easy walking relaxation trick anyone can do!
I make a point to walk as often as I can. And when I do, I often let my mind wander.
Occasionally a good idea for a song will come to me, or a topic for an article (like this one).
Other times, I deliberately try to clear my mind and not think about anything at all.
When I do this, I like to focus on my breath—specifically, matching the rhythm of my breathing to the speed at which I’m walking. It’s like a “walking meditation” of sorts.
My helpful “walking meditation” routine
Just like other forms of meditation, if my mind happens to wander during my walk, it’s completely fine. I just acknowledge the thought, and attempt to bring my attention back to my breathing and my steps.
Sometimes my walks only last for about 20 minutes, and other times I’ll go out for a few hours. But regardless of the duration, I always leave the woods feeling calm, present, and refreshed.
The walking rhythm I’ve found to be especially effective is taking two steps per second. And in my specific walking meditation practice, I aim to breathe in for eight steps, and then exhale for eight steps.
Not only does this slow rhythmic breathing help unravel the tightness in my neck and back, but it also washes away my anxiety and makes my body feel lighter and more agile.
But it turns out, that’s just the beginning. I recently came across some research showing that breathing at a slower rate actually unlocks a whole trove of health benefits I never knew about…
Slowed breath control offers a long list of benefits
In a large 2017 study published in the journal Breathe, researchers reviewed 119 studies on the effects of “slow breathing.”
They concluded that slow breathing benefits people in four major areas of health:
Cardiorespiratory (a measure of your endurance):
Autonomic nervous system (the nervous systems that regulates non-voluntary bodily functions like breathing, digestion, sweating, and your heartbeat):
The researchers determined that in order to achieve these benefits, the respiration rate “sweet spot” is between 6 to 10 complete breaths per minute.
How you can enjoy the benefits of controlled breathing
Want to get started with your own slow-breathing, walking meditation practice? It’s pretty simple. Just remember to go at a pace that’s comfortable for you, and take breaks if you need them.
The key here is to make a deliberate shift to slow your breathing. Feel free to experiment with the rhythm and timing until you find the breathing rate that feels the best for you!
The main takeaway for today is that, sometimes, making a simple and conscious adjustment to things you’re already doing can result in some truly remarkable improvements when it comes to your health.
Interested in learning more about the small everyday techniques that can transform your health? I encourage you to check out The Donovan Sound Solution, which walks you through even more rhythm-and breath-based exercises to help you lead a longer, more vibrant life. Simply click here to learn more or to get started today!
Jim Donovan, M.Ed.
Russo, M. (2017). The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human. Breathe. 13(4): pp. 298 – 309. Retrieved from: researchgate.net/publication/321424065_The_physiological_effects_of_slow_breathing_in_the_healthy_human
Jim Donovan M.Ed. is a multi-platinum musician, educator and TEDx speaker. His mission is to share the restorative power of music through education and performance. He is also an Assistant Professor and Director of Music and Wellness at Saint Francis University.
Jim Donovan got his start as a founding member of the multi-platinum selling band Rusted Root.
There he co-wrote the song “Send Me on My Way” featured in the movies "Ice Age", "Matilda" and the Netflix series "New Girl".
During his time with the band 1990-2005, he recorded and released seven full length albums. Including "When I Woke" (3x platinum).
His viral TEDx Talk "How to Trick Your Brain Into Falling Asleep" has been viewed over 6 million times to date.
Learn more: https://www.donovanhealth.com/
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It's my most popular technique to help you stop those racing thoughts at bedtime and get deeper more restorative sleep.
I hope it helps you. Jim