Walking meditation is one form of meditation that can be helpful in our daily life. Like many other forms of meditation that uses focus, in walking meditation we use the experience of walking as our focus. It is meditation in action.
In walking meditation we become mindful of our experience while walking, like its process, and the movement of our legs (left, right, left, right); we keep our focus on that experience. There are some differences between walking meditation and sitting meditation. Obviously one of them is we keep our eyes open during walking meditation, that difference alone implies other changes in the way we do the practice. In walking meditation, we do not withdraw our attention from the outside world, we have to be aware of the things outside ourselves, such as tripping over, other people we might walk into, and many other things that we will be more aware of than when we are doing sitting, especially if we sit inside. Other factors include the wind, the sun, the rain, the sound of nature and of humans and machines.
One of the biggest differences however, is that it’s done easier. For most people, being more intensely aware of their bodies while doing walking meditation is much easier than the sitting forms and practices of sitting meditation. When the body is in motion, it is easier to be aware of it compared to when you are sitting still, the experience can be intense and you can find intense enjoyment in the practice. There several different kinds of walking meditation, but the most common is walking meditation done outdoors. For the first try, you may want to find a park or open space where you will be able to walk for twenty minutes without encountering traffic.
How to do walking meditation
After you have decided or chosen a park where you can do your walking meditation, here are some steps of how to do walking meditation:
Simply begin the walking meditation by standing. Just stand on the spot, be aware of the weight being transferred from your body through the soles of your feet into the earth. Be aware of all the subtle movements that go on in order to keep us balanced and upright. Our ability to be able to stand upright should not be taken for granted. So be aware of the constant adjustments that you’re making in order to maintain your balance.
After being able to do the first step, you can begin to walk at a fairly slow but normal walking pace, and in a normal manner. Remember that we are not changing the way we walk; we’re simply going to be aware of it. Awareness of the body As you start your first steps of walking, keep attention to the soles of your feet, be aware of the alternating patterns of contact and release; be aware of all the different sensations in your feet, everything from the contact between the toes, the feeling of the inside of your shoes, the fabric of your socks, and let your feet be relaxed as you can. The bottom line of this step is to be aware of each and every little thing that you do with your body in the process of walking, including the focus of your eyes, relaxing your eyes and not allowing yourself to be caught up in anything that’s going to past you.
We are not talking of emotional feelings, but just the feeling of tone that you’re having. Things that feels pleasant and unpleasant, inside and outside of your body. Do not cling to them or push them away, just notice them, and allow them to drift by. Thoughts and emotions just notice your emotional state, such as are you bored? Are you content? Are you irritated? Are you feeling very happy to be doing what you’re doing? Noticing these things with no particular judgment and simply noticing them.
Balancing Inner and Outer
If you can be aware of both the inner world and the outer world in equal balance, then the mind settles at a point of stillness, and calmness and clarity. Balance your experience between the inner and the outer.
After every step has been experienced comes to a natural halt. You’re not freezing on the spot but you allow yourself to come to a stop and just experience yourself standing. Simply standing and experiencing you, and finally bringing the meditation to a close.