The Zen Art of Hurrying Slowly: A Walking Meditation

No time to meditate? Dr. Tiffany Lester of Parsley Health offers peace-producing solution you can practice wherever you are—no meditation cushion or timer needed.

One day on my usual subway commute to work I noticed this older Indian woman. She stood out among the rush hour throng of people because she had the most peaceful, serene look on her face. As I was stressing out about being late for my first patient, I thought to myself “What is her secret?”

Of all the people in the world, I knew two men who would have the answer—His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu. I went to the library to check out The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, a story of two friends who have survived the most horrific circumstances yet still exude such peace and joy. One of the most powerful passages in the book was on the very first page:

“No dark fate determines the future. We do. Each day and each moment, we are able to create and re-create our lives. This is the power we wield.”

How do we access this power in the rush of our modern world? With our thoughts. While it can sometimes seem like we have no control over our crazy monkey mind, we can push the pause button 100 times a day while still being productive. Doing this on a regular basis will actually make us more productive and present.

See also A Flow to Calm Your Crazy Monkey Mind for Meditation

Put Peace into Practice with this Walking Meditation

Runners have this funny term “Fartlek,” which originated from the Swedes. This concept is about being unstructured and alternating hard sprints with easy jogs throughout a run. When running you focus on a certain point (tree, mailbox) to sprint to and then ease up. It creates a natural flow and rhythm to running. It’s the delicate balance of presence and absence.

We can practice this flow in our daily life as well (even if running a marathon sounds like absolute torture). I’m talking about the art of hurrying slowly, coined by Eckhart Tolle as the “Fartleks of Presence.” Often I see patients in my practice who say they absolutely don’t have time to meditate for 10 minutes a day. The practice of hurrying slowly is a mindfulness meditation you can easily include into your daily routine. It doesn’t require you to sit on a cushion, set a timer, or wake up early.

Here’s how it works: say you are running to catch your train or driving to work. Even as you are rushing about, focus on one spot like a mailbox. From the present moment until you reach that mailbox, focus on having no thoughts, just being exactly where you are. You can do this multiple times alternating between thinking and not thinking to cultivate being in the present moment as a type of meditation.

The practice of hurrying slowly, taking these little breaks in your daily routine, can put you on the path to lasting peace. How can you add some Fartleks to your life today?

See also Guided Mindful Walking Meditation

About Our Expert
Tiffany Lester MD is the Medical Director at Parsley Health SF. She is an internal medicine physician with specialized training in functional medicine, acupuncture, and nutrition. She believes that we all have the ability to take charge of our health. Often we just need a bridge to that other side. Her mission is to work with individuals to navigate the complexity of the body and get to the root cause of disease. Trained at the University of Cincinnati for medical school and residency, she then completed a two-year integrative medicine fellowship with the renowned Dr. Andrew Weil. Tiffany began her career 5 years ago at Alliance Integrative Medicine—one of the leading integrative medicine centers in the country. During that time she also became certified in medical acupuncture and began her functional medicine training. Tiffany also writes for leading wellness publications including The Huffington Post and MindBodyGreen. She is passionate about healing chronic disease through a functional medicine approach and teaching people how simple, small shifts can have an enormous impact on their health.

About Parsley Health
Parsley Health is a groundbreaking medical practice of highly trained doctors and health coaches.We take a smarter, whole approach to helping you live a healthy life. Our doctors and health coaches take the time to know you and your individual story. We thoughtfully use state of the art diagnostic tests to determine the root cause of what’s bothering you. Then together we curate the best possible medical, nutrition and fitness plan for you. The result is you’re happy, well and in control of your own health. Our annual membership gives you comprehensive medical care and health coaching, unlimited online access to your records and medical team, access to our large wellness community and exclusive discounts and perks.