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Walking Meditation

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  1. What is walking meditation?
  2. We can do walking meditation at various times.
  3. Walk at a pace which allows for a meditative state. 
  4. The techniques.   

What is walking meditation? As the name implies, it is a form of meditation in which we walk with "mindfulness."

We can do walking meditation at various times.  

  1. We can do it as a part of our regular life (because we walk many times during the day).
  2. We can do it during a distinct meditation session, using one the variations which are described below.
  3. We can do it as a contrast to our "sitting meditation." In some monasteries and retreats, walking meditation is used between sessions of sitting meditation; obviously, one reason is to give the body some exercise for the revival of flexibility and blood circulation.

Walk at a pace which allows for a meditative state. Depending on the type of walking meditation (or our preference at that moment), we might walk at a slower speed or a faster speed.

  1. A slow speed. At this speed, we can focus more clearly on the individual movements and we might be more relaxed. A single step could take 20 seconds or longer.
  2. A quick speed. We can walk more rapidly in the following situations:
    • We are proficient in this meditation technique.
    • We are using a variation which allows for a quicker speed.
    • We feel more energetic.
    • We are walking in public (where a snail pace would attract stares).

The techniques. During a session of walking meditation, we can use any of the following techniques. 

  1. Focus on the body's sensations.
    • We can be aware of the general sense of movement throughout our body.
    • We can concentrate on a particular part -- the legs, feet, hips, knees, or swinging arms.
    • If our feet are bare, we might attend to the unique surface under each step.
  2. Focus on counting. We count each step: 1, 2, 3, and so on. When we reach 10, we can start again at 1.
  3. "Note" the movements (as in "noting meditation"). We say (or think) the word, "step," at one phase of the process -- perhaps when each foot leaves the ground, or when it returns to the ground. For example, we would say, "Step," "step," "step." Or we can note each phase of a foot's movement: for example, "raising," "forward," "placing" (or "up," "forward," "down"). "Noting" helps us to concentrate our attention on the activity; however, these notes might be considered a mental distraction if we would rather focus on the bodily sensations.
  4. Focus on the breath. We can use two variations:
    • We breathe in our natural manner, and we simply notice how many steps we take during each inhalation and each exhalation.
    • We control our breathing to synchronize it with the walking; for example, we might have two steps during an inhalation and three steps during an exhalation -- or three steps during an inhalation and four steps during an exhalation.
  5. Focus on the energy. As we walk, we notice the energy which is flowing in various directions:
    • We feel the energy of the ground flowing up through our feet to nourish us.
    • We feel our energy going down to bless the earth beneath us.
    • We feel the energy coming up through the left foot and moving down through the right foot. Or we could feel it coming up through both feet or descending through both feet.
  6. Focus on a mantra or an affirmation.
    • We can repeat a phrase in rhythm with our steps.
    • We can extend a single-syllable mantra. For example, we might chant "aum" for six steps, and then inhale for two steps.
  7. Focus on the shifting of weight.
    • We feel the weight of our body as it is transferred from one part to another -- through the knees, feet, etc.
    • We focus on one part (e.g., the right hip), and we notice the increase and decrease in pressure as we are walking on our right foot or left foot.
  8. Focus on the mental processes. Before we lift a foot, or move it forward, or set it down, we have a thought of intending to do that action. We can be aware of that thought as it appears, and as it causes the physical movement.
  9. Focus on our parter. We can walk with someone else, with whom we synchronize our steps.
  10. We can walk in different ways.
    • We can walk on only one part of the foot, such as the heel.
    • We can walk backwards.
    • We can walk on our knees.
    • We can skip, or crawl, or hop.

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