Walking meditation is the perfect alternative if body and mind are too restless to sit and rest in stillness. Its also a lovely change from the usual, less active meditation practices. No great skill or understanding is required. Simply give attention to (just knowing, not evaluating or thinking about) the breath, foot steps, or the ground. Adjust to a slow, gentle pace. Wherever one can walk, one can meditate along the way.
- Body and mind become one (united by breath).
- Calm strong emotions by living in the present moment(rather than reflecting on the past or worrying about possible futures).
- Focus on the internal world in the senses of the body rather than the outer.
- Draw excess energy and emotions (stray thoughts upsetting the heart/mind) out of the head down into the body.
“Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.” - Thay
Deepen the practice with the highly recommend book Walking Meditation by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and his student Nguyen Anh-Huong. It is short, simple, and very easy to read with super clear instructions and an added bonus -- an instructional DVD and a CD that includes 5 walking meditations. Remember, there is no goal to walking meditation. The destination is here and now...one breath at a time.
“Walking meditation is meditation while walking.” - Thay
4 Key Steps
- Breathing - stay aware of what is happening now. What is happening? Breathing. Breathe using a gentle, full belly (not a full chest) to calm thoughts, relaxing the hips, elbows, muscles, legs, face, eyes, ears, and brain. Maybe place hands on the belly to feel the rise and fall (optional). Breath in “resting,” breath out “softening.”
- Walking - with soft eyes, moving slowly and gently. Feel the sensation of each foot as it presses down on the earth. Notice it as it lifts up, touches the ground, and is lifted up again. Follow every foot step with mind and breath.
- Counting - if staying focused on each step is a struggle, count the number of steps to each inhale and each exhale. This encourages attention (discourages distraction).
- Smiling - smiles, half smiles, upside down frowns, grins... It is said a smile brings lightness to the feet, inviting the body to relax, helping us settle more easily into walking meditation.
“Don’t bring anxiety and stress to the ground with your feet.” - Thay
(Ven. Yuttadhammo) This is the third in a series of six videos on how to practice meditation without religious dogma or spiritual mumbo-jumbo.