5. Walking is a Ritual
Walking in Japan is a wonderful way to discover and explore the country. There are many different paths and pilgrimages to undertake if you’re lucky enough to holiday there, but if you’re not, you can still walk like the Japanese do. Not only do Japanese people prefer to walk in the overcrowded cities to minimize traffic congestion, walking can also be considered as a Buddhist ritual. Around 90 million people in Japan consider themselves to be Buddhists, and as such many of them undertake the practice of walking meditation. Walking meditation is an easy exercise to do as it doesn’t require any fancy equipment, you just need a comfortable pair of shoes and you’re good to go. It involves deliberately thinking about each step, instead of just walking on autopilot as you normally might. So as you walk, focus on lifting one foot, moving it forward, and putting it down on the ground. Then focus on lifting the other foot, moving it forward, and taking the next step. Notice how your body weight shifts as you begin to walk forward, and simply go forward.
While it might feel pretty ridiculous to do, in practice it is simply going for a slow walk, and paying close attention to each movement. Integrating this practice into your daily schedule will benefit you in many ways. Walking is a weight-bearing exercise, and can increase heart and lung fitness, reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke, improve management of various conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, muscle and joint pain, and diabetes. Walking for at least 30 minutes each day can help you gain strong bones, improve your balance, increase muscle strength and endurance, and help you lose or manage weight. Most people struggle putting aside 30 minutes each day, but you can begin building it into your daily routine by making some simple changes. Choose to take the stairs instead of the lift, walk instead of driving to the local shops, or get off public transport earlier than usual and walk the rest of the way to your destination.