The Traumatic Stress Institute fosters the transformation of organizations and service systems to trauma-informed care (TIC) through the delivery of whole-system consultation, professional training, coaching, and research.

Walking Meditation:  A Tool for Building Capacity to Notice Our Reactions to Others

September 2, 2021 / by John Engel, MA

Monthly RC Mindfulness: Come Fill Your Cup - September 2021

More than 30 RC Trainers, Champions and staff attended the sixth Monthly RC Mindfulness session. This blog offers a brief summary of the session, initial feedback from participants, and resources to advance learning and practice.

Enjoy the read and remember that all staff, Champions, and Trainers at RC agencies are welcome to attend this free, monthly drop-in offering – share this registration link with your coworkers today.

Join us October 6th when we will share our walking meditation experiences and introduce a Body Scan practice.

Session Summary

Our Risking Connection curriculum makes clear that noticing our reactions to others is an essential practice, which we must foster and continuously develop to effectively support the healing of trauma survivors. The Monthly RC Mindfulness session in June introduced the idea that mindfulness practices can be used to develop The Practice of Noticing. In the July session sitting meditation was explored as a specific practice for building capacity to notice reactions, as summarized in The Practice of Noticing - Using Support Anchors. In our September session we introduced walking meditation as another practice for building our capacity to notice our reactions to others. Walking meditation offers an opportunity to use the bodily sensations from walking as internal support anchors. This supports our mindfulness practice and helps build our attentional focus and bodily awareness. Both of these capacities are useful in noticing our reactions to others and widening our window of tolerance. 

Invitation to September Practice

Explore walking meditation during the month of September, building on the July-August experience with sitting meditation:

  • 2-3 times per week for 2-5 minutes per session
  • Set a specific time (if helpful), such as upon rising, mid-morning break, lunch time, pre-bed…
  • Explore different bodily sensations (internal anchors)
  • Mix and compare walking and sitting meditation
  • Take care of yourself, seek support as needed
  • Notice your reactions and have fun!

Participant Feedback  

  • "I am really trying to learn to practice meditation and these sessions have been helpful."
  • "I love the different layers of meditation that are being introduced and practiced."
  • "We are living in a time where these momentary respites are essential. Thank you for creating a space for us to be intentional in carving out this time for ourselves."

 

Resource and Reminders for Walking Meditation

Tip #1: Scan your environment for safety. Practicing in a safe space (alone or with others) will help your survival brain perceive safety, so that you can access calm and focus.

Tip #2:  During walking meditation, experiment with different internal support anchors by focusing your attention on the bodily sensation of your feet contacting the ground, the movement of your arms or legs, or your head balancing on your neck and shoulders. When you notice your mind wandering gently guide your attention back to the bodily sensations of walking.

Tip #3: Meditation is not recommended as a way to move from a highly dysregulated state to a place of calm, especially for trauma survivors. Rather, movement-based activities, including gentle rhythmic motion, walking, yoga, and other forms of exercise better support nervous system regulation.

Tip #4: If you are new to our Monthly RC Mindfulness (or simply wish to review prior sessions), feel free to explore mindfulness blogs on the TSI website. The posts with the image of a yellow cup are part of the Monthly RC Mindfulness series and there is a three-part series, too, from Summer/Fall 2020.

Register for Monthly RC Mindfulness

Tags: Mindfulness

John Engel, MA

Written by John Engel, MA

John Engel is a Program Coordinator for the Traumatic Stress Institute of the Klingberg Family Centers, where he serves as a trainer and consultant for client agencies adopting whole system change to trauma-informed care. John also facilitates strategic change initiatives and product development for TSI, including development and launch of the Online ARTIC Scale. Additionally, John has been piloting mindfulness in the workplace, including design and delivery of a national training webinar entitled Mindfulness in the Workplace: Practices for Sustaining Trauma-Informed Care, design and facilitation of a day-long virtual training event, Mindfulness: The Inner Work of Racial Healing and Trauma-Informed Care, and a Monthly RC Mindfulness pilot in 2021. Since 2011, John has written a monthly column, The Fatherhood Journey, for the Daily Hampshire Gazette, with a mission of promoting public and private conversations about fatherhood.