Walking meditation can be done before or after formal sitting meditation, it can be done on its own and eventually it can be extended to be a part of everyday life, when shopping or walking along a road.
Choose a place, indoors or outdoors that is comfortable for you. You will be turning and retracing your path as you practice so it can be anything from ten to forty paces or so in length. I like to pick a spot between two trees.
Stand at one end of your chosen path and take a breath or two so that you get used to the feel of being there: your feet on the ground, the temperature of the air, the scent. Just place yourself there.
Walk slowly in a relaxed and comfortable way. Pay attention to the sensations of walking in your legs and feet. When you get to the other end of the path, turn slowly and stop to place yourself before you get going again. Keep repeating back and forth for as long as you like – 5 minutes, 20 minutes, an hour – whatever works for you.
Your mind will wander off in another direction than your feet, just like a dog on a leash that wants to run off somewhere else. That’s normal. When you notice it has strayed, bring it back gently to feel the next step. Some people acknowledge where their mind strayed by naming it. ‘Thinking about what to make for supper’ or ‘worrying about work’ or ‘hearing the plane fly overhead’ or less specifically, ‘thinking’, ‘planning’, ‘having an opinion’. This isn’t about stopping the mental chatter – that’s not going to happen. It’s about becoming aware of it and choosing to return to walking anyhow.
Once you get the hang of this, you can bring it with you into your everyday activities. After you get used to bringing your attention back to the moment when walking you may find it brings a sense of the fresh joy of walking that you felt as a kid. Just walking for its own sake. It can be freeing.
If you find sitting meditation painful or difficult this is a great alternative. However when replacing formal sitting with walking try to remember that you are meditating and not just taking a stroll.
Content © Janet Dane unless otherwise stated.