When you hear mediation most people immediately associate it with the sitting form, which is more commonly known in the west, but traditional Buddhist teachings identify four meditation postures: sitting, walking, standing and lying down.
Within the practice of walking mediation there are several kinds, for the most formal walking meditation you will need to find a pathway about 30 to 40 feet long, and simply walk back and forth. When you reach the end of your path come to a complete stop, turn around, stop again, and then start again. Most people say it helps to keep your eye cast down without looking at anything in particular, other say its helpful to keep the eyelids half closed.
Find a pace of ease, focusing your attention into the body, once you are feeling connected to your body, let your attention settle into your feet and lower legs. In sitting meditation, it’s common to use the breathing in and out as an “anchor” keeping us in the present. In walking meditation, the focus is on the alternating stepping of the feet. Dedicate your attention to the sensations of walking, to your legs and feet to each step, feel your legs and feet tense as you move, feel the contact of your foot with the ground. Getting a sense of the rhythm of the steps may help maintain a continuity of awareness.
Walking meditation is a great alternative to sitting meditation. Although it’s frequently used as a refreshing option to long periods of sitting, thus giving the body a break, it is generally practiced as a form of meditation in its own right.
The Buddha illustrates some key advantages by practicing walking meditation.
- Diminishes the risk of disease
– Prepares our bodies for long journeys (physical fitness)
– The equanimity achieved by walking up and down has long term effects
– Prepares us for adversity and strife
– Enables proper digestion
Any activity we engage in can turn into meditation including washing dishes, eating dinner, driving the car, cutting the grass, or simply walking. Mindful walking, or walking meditation, induces a zen like state-of-mind and promotes a feeling of peace. Buddhist monks would remain mindful as they went about their day performing their menial daily tasks such as preparing food or fetching water. It was just natural for them to turn walking into a chance to increase mindfulness and kindheartedness.
Walking meditation may be the best form of meditation to practice today due to our busy modern lifestyles. Most people find it difficult to set enough time aside to actually sit and meditate. However, since most people are always walking somewhere anyway, it provides a golden opportunity to enhance the health of both mind and body simultaneously. Even just walking from the car into a store presents a chance for a minute or two’s worth of walking meditation. It can easily be incorporated into the little breaks we have throughout the day.
In addition to the health benefits that walking meditation produces, it creates a sense of fun as well. It allows us to enjoy the tranquility we get from engaging our minds, boosting our physical health, and enjoying the simple pleasures of life in a simple and easy manner.