How to Practice Walking Meditation

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Illustrations by Tomi Um.

Leslie Booker gives step-by-step instruction.

Within the 4 foundations of mindfulness, as specified by the famed Satiphatthana Sutta, the Buddha gives 4 postures for training meditation:

A monk is aware of, when he’s strolling,
“I’m strolling”;

he is aware of, when he’s standing,
“I’m standing”;

he is aware of, when he’s sitting,
“I’m sitting”;

he is aware of, when he’s mendacity down,
“I’m mendacity down”;

or simply as his physique is disposed
so he is aware of it.

Strolling meditation is commonly described as a meditation in movement.

On this apply, you place your full consideration on the method of strolling—from the shifting of the burden in your physique to the mechanics of inserting your foot. Strolling meditation is an integral a part of retreat life in lots of traditions and is used to offset and shift the vitality of sitting apply. It’s a bridge to combine apply into every day life and may be extra accessible than a sitting apply for many individuals.

Discover an unobstructed house the place you possibly can stroll in a straight line for about ten toes. This quick strolling distance is the instruction given within the Theravada custom. Others want to stroll for larger distances. Deliver your consideration all the way down to your toes and slowly shift your weight back and forth and entrance to again. Being in naked toes can carry extra consciousness to what must occur within the physique to create stability.

Leslie Booker, How to Meditate, Walking Meditation, Shambhala Sun, Lion's Roar, Buddhism

Coming into bodily stillness, elevate the crown of your head up, slide your shoulders down and away out of your ears, and elevate your chest with dignity and delight, as in case you have been a king or a queen. You’ll be able to clasp your arms behind your again, maintain them in entrance of your physique, or let your arms hold loosely to the aspect.

Lifting your proper leg, discover the burden redistribution in your physique. Place your consideration on what the left aspect of your physique must do to carry your full weight—spreading the toes, partaking the core. Lengthen the suitable leg ahead, inserting the heel on the bottom and rolling onto the ball of the foot. As your weight shifts ahead, discover how the heel of your left foot begins to elevate. Swing the left leg ahead and repeat.

Leslie Booker, How to Meditate, Walking Meditation, Shambhala Sun, Lion's Roar, Buddhism

Including verbal cues is an effective way to determine synchronization and rhythm throughout the physique. Because the thoughts begins to wander, use a easy verbal cue like “lifting, shifting, inserting” as a reminder to carry the thoughts again to the physique. Incorporating a gatha, a brief verse to assist apply, is a standard approach utilized in Thich Nhat Hanh’s communities. Right here’s one which could be used for strolling meditation:

(Inhaling) “I’ve arrived”; (Respiration out) “I’m dwelling.”

(Inhaling) “Within the right here”;
(Respiration out) “Within the now.”

(Inhaling) “I’m strong”;
(Respiration out) “I’m free.”

(Inhaling) “Within the final”; (Respiration out) “I dwell.”

Leslie Booker, How to Meditate, Walking Meditation, Shambhala Sun, Lion's Roar, Buddhism

Whenever you get to the top of your quick strolling path, come to an entire cease and take a breath. Flip 1 / 4 of the way in which, possibly taking one other breath, then totally flip all the way in which round, going through the place you simply got here from. Begin over with discovering your posture and establishing your stability. Once more elevate, transfer, and place the foot.

In the beginning of this apply, you may discover that your steps are very calculated and robotic. See in case you can start to seek out extra fluidity as you join the breath with motion, maybe letting go of the phrases and simply permitting this to be a completely embodied apply. Begin with a few ten-minute session, slowly constructing as much as 30–45 minutes.

When you’ve got come to the top of your apply, stand nonetheless, seeing the place there’s vitality within the physique and what’s nonetheless. Discover what has risen to the highest and what has been let go of.

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