Meditation is often thought of individuals sitting in cross legged position focusing on inhalation. There are many different forms of meditation and one being Walking Meditation. Walking meditation is practiced in Buddhist temples and monasteries around the world. Meditation retreats in the Western countries now incorporate walking meditation as a way to build calm and mindfulness. Walking meditation is a simple exercise that does not require a lot of time and can be done for 5 minutes or 20 minutes.
Seated meditation focuses on the awareness of your surroundings and breathing while sitting in one area. In contrast, the act of walking grounds you to the earth. The strong connection between your mind and earth is done with each step you take. On numerous occasions, I found myself loosing focus or drifting to sleep with seated meditation. Walking meditation allows my mind to be alert on different body parts as I take each step. In essence seated meditation is focused on awareness of things around you and walking mediation on self-awareness.
Walking meditation can be learnt through visiting meditation retreats or simply following the guide below. I have put together walking meditation techniques to help you get started. I hope the walking meditation instructions will help you.
Walking meditation techniques
Basic walking meditation instructions
Find a quiet area where you have at least 30 – 50 feet of walking space. If you do not have a large area, then you can walk in an oval shape. Take a deep breath, bring your mental focus to the breathing and take your first step. Be conscious of which foot you use to step forward with. Develop a slow and steady rhythm of your body movements. For example, on the inhalation you will lift your right foot and step forward during exhalation.
Concentrate on the 5 points of walking:
- Lifting your foot. Be conscious of which foot you are lifting
- Raising your foot.
- Pushing your foot forward.
- Dropping that foot to the ground.
- Touching the floor with that same foot.
Do not worry if you feel you are doing it wrong. The effort is what matters. You can close your eyes half way, rest your palms on your navel or bow your head slightly as you walk. With each step imagine that you are walking over a rock or small wooden log to help you become aware of the rise and pushing. This imagery was the best guidance for me during my stay at Beomosa Temple in South Korea.
Get in tune with the rhythm of your body. Keep the motion of walking very slow. You do not want to speed walk as you want your mind and body to relax. Find a steady pace in which you find your mind connected to the physical experience of walking. If your mind wanders off, you can combat that with thoughts of walking. As you walk you can repeat in your mind “Raising left leg” or “Pushing of the ground”. Affirm to yourself in respect to what you are doing at the present moment. The most challenging task is to keep your mind in tune with the rhythm and breathing.
Start to feel all the sensations of walking. Is the floor cool when it touches your feet? How does your foot feel when you step? Do you find yourself balanced as you raise your feet and plant it on the ground?
I broke down my walking pattern into each of the points of walking. I simply said “Lifitng”, “Raising”, “Pushing” and “Dropping”. There were times I had lost my balance because I had reduced my pace of walking dramatically.
Samatha Walking Meditation technique
Samatha is about awareness and the walking meditation instructions above are sufficient for this. The focus is to calm the mind and prevent thoughts from distracting the act of walking meditation. If you find yourself being distracted, hold your walk and let go of distracting thoughts. Continue once you have found the connection again.
Vipassana Walking Meditation
Vipassana is about seeking wisdom and insight into one self. This should be practiced only when you are comfortable with walking meditation techniques mentioned above. Once a common rhythm and calmness is developed start to investigate different parts of yourself. Look at all different thing in a detached perspective such as happiness, sad, anger, perception of the walking itself and etc…
Walking meditation is a great way to change routine of seated Buddhist meditation. I personally employ this meditation technique when I feel tired or sleepy. The act of walking and calmness helps me rejuvenate my mind and soul.
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