Walking Meditation: 5 Keys

Walking Meditation

This is 2-part series of Walking Meditation, the summary of MBX-12 and Walking Meditation sessions at the Rockville Center Park in Maryland on April 19. PART 1 is about 5 Keys for Walking Meditation. PART 2 is about 5 Ways of Practicing Walking Meditation.

Walking meditation is generally used to relieve physical discomfort during sitting meditation. Every 30 or 60 minutes or so, you take a break from sitting and walk lightly around the room or yard, relieving the aching ankles and legs and relaxing the stiff back. Walking meditation breaks can make sitting meditation more comfortable and enjoyable.

We do meditation as a way to free the mind. But sometimes, we take it too seriously resulting in suffering rather than enjoyment. As the saying goes, we focus too much on the finger that points at the moon rather than seeing the moon. Suffering is not a good way to experience meditation, especially for those who have just begun the practice or have physical limitations. Interspersing sitting meditation with lots of walking can help you ease in and enhance the depth of your meditation experience.

 5 Keys for Walking Meditation

Walking meditation is literally meditating while walking. There is less physical restrain yet the same degree of mental focus as sitting meditation. To sustain your meditative focus while walking, minimize activities that demand your attention. Create your own path and flow and stick with them. There are 5 keys to doing so: counterclockwise circular path, good posture, proper gaze, rhythmic breath and walking pace.

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1. Path: Walking in one direction keeps your physical attention to a minimum. For example, following a counterclockwise circular path, with your left side of your body on the inside of the circle, you create a consistent flow of awareness of your body. In Eastern terms, the yang (the outer right side of the body) protects the yin (the inner left side of the body) and the yin nourishes the yang. They are reciprocal entities. Additionally, this left body-centered awareness stimulates the right brain, unleashing our imaginative creative nature while relieving burdens on the left brain. Once you establish the path of your choice, stick with it to minimize disruption of your attention.

2. Posture: The position of your lower stomach and chin has a great impact on the degree of your attention. It is said that the stomach and chin are pockets of energy, holding invisible energy and revealing the level of your practice. Simply, tuck them in. Feel the difference in your posture and adjust according to your present condition. For example, if you tuck in too much, it may bother your breathing, disturbing the natural condition of your body.

3. Gaze: Gaze yet don’t gaze at anything particular. Monitor where you are going yet don’t get caught by anything. Set your gaze at about 15 degrees below a direct gaze to contain your attention.

4. Breath: For sustaining the meditative mode, as you do in sitting meditation, bring your attention to each breath. To start, practice One Step One Breath. For example, take a slow breathing when you slowly lift your left foot and breathe slowly out when you slowly touch the heel on the ground and roll the bottom of your foot until the ball of the foot touches the ground. Then repeat the process with your right foot. Another example is Two Step One Breath: Take a normal breath in when you lift and drop your left and right foot, and breathe out when you next lift and drop your left and right foot. Repeat. I will talk further about ways of practicing in Part 2.

5. Pace: Breathing pace and walking pace are closely related. Take each step with the same distance and speed. As you become used to walking meditation, you will become less conscious of your self being aware of your posture, gaze, breath and step. Allow yourself to merge into the moment of walking.

To be continued in PART 2: 5 Ways of Practicing Walking Meditation.

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