In a lesson in my meditation classes, I would teach about mindfulness. And in the teaching, I would mention Walking Meditation. Upon hearing this, my students would be surprised, and as me ask What is Walking Meditation and How to Practice It?
I can imagine some of you be just as surprised as my students. And I can almost hear some of you ask – “Wait. What? Walking meditation? Isn’t meditation all about sitting still?”
Meditation is a practice to empty our thoughts. In doing so, bliss emerges. This is the simple review of what is meditation.
As such, meditation does not need to be practiced only by sitting still. It can be done when doing something repetitive. As you repeat the action, you focus only on the action. This is mindfulness, and it is known as meditation in action.
Let me share a true story of my first experience with walking meditation.
My Experience with Walking Meditation
It was the year 2000. The company I worked for was located at an industrial park in Singapore. The office was some distance away from the nearest Mrt (mass rapid transit) station.
Every morning I would walk through a piece of land that stretched from the MRT station to the place of work. One particular morning, as I made my way slowly to the office, one of my Spirit Guides joined me for the stroll.
After walking a very short distance, he suggested I do walking meditation. At that time, I did not know of walking meditation. And did not know how to do it. So, my Spirit Guide said he would teach me.
As we walked on side by side, he guided me on how to feel each and every part of my body working together. How my entire body created the experience of walking.
And finally, simply walk with focus and awareness of walking.
It was an amazing experience. To be totally aware of every part of my body as I walked. I was aware of me entire being.
He then suggested that I extend that awareness to the world around me. To reach out with my awareness and sense the grassland all around me.
I did as he said. When I did that, I could feel everything near me. My eyes were looking in front of me, and I could sense the entire space of the grassland; the ground, the soil, the grass.
And then suddenly I knew that there were storks on the grassland, to my left, about 100 meters away. I slowly turned my head to confirmed this.
And true enough! There were a couple of storks there! This was unusual because I never knew there were storks in Singapore.
The next thing that happened was I sensed someone, about 100 meters away, making his way quietly behind me. The person was one of my colleagues back then. He was trying his best not to be heard. He was trying to sneak up on me from behind, and wanted to surprise me.
Unknown to him, I could hear his thoughts. Soon, he was right behind me. And he was about to tap my shoulder to surprise me.
Instead, I surprised him. I greeted him by his name. And then I turned around to face him. This was all before his hand could even touch my shoulder.
You should have seen his face. All he could mutter was, “How did you know I was behind you?”
I just smiled.
What is Walking Meditation?
Walking meditation is a very essential part of a Buddhist monk’s practice. The practice is done with the Four Foundations of Mindfulness.
The practice here is the moment to moment mindfulness during the walking, without thoughts. This is meditation in action.
Would you like to know more about mindfulness and the Four Foundations? I wrote an article about it. Click here to read it.
Feelings and Sensations During Walking Meditation
#mindfulness #walkingmeditation #meditation
The wise words of the Greek Philosopher, Heraclitus, is relevant to walking meditation. Everything in this universe is constantly changing. The changes can result in moments of good emotions or bad ones.
This is because the ego is involved. The ego reacts to the changes. When you do not identify your self with your body and mind, then there can be no reaction from the ego at all.
Feelings and sensations emerge when we are faced with things in this world; such as noise, food, fragrances, and surfaces.The most important thing when doing walking meditation is to be aware of the sensation as it arises.
As you walk, notice whether you are experiencing a pleasant, unpleasant or indifferent feeling. Do not notice it before or later the event.
When you see or hear without being fully aware of the pleasant or unpleasant sensation, you react. This type of action is without awareness and therefore unmindful.
At the same time, you must be able to be aware of any neutral and indifferent sensation. You do this because if you do not, you will become dull.
The object of walking meditation is to not react to anything. Everything is neither attractive nor odious.Simply observe, and note that you are walking.
When we act or react, we are creating karma. When we simply be aware of the feelings and sensations, and do not act or react, no karma is produced.
To not act or react, the best way is to empty the mind. And that can be achieved with walking meditation.
What Are The Mistakes When Practicing Walking Meditation?
As discussed above, it is best to empty the mind. When you are repeating mantras, your mind is not empty. And this is not going to help you with your walking meditation.
#2 Not Focused
You should not focus the mind on the walking movement, and at the same time thinking of something else. For example, trying to co-ordinate your breath with each walking step. When you walk, simply observe and feel the walking movement only.
How to Practice Walking Meditation?
Here is a simple and basic list of steps on how to practice walking meditation. Find a space where you can practice on a small scale first.
As you become more adept, you can expand to practicing in an open space, like a garden or even wherever you are walking to.
- First choose a straight path. When you are starting this practice, it is best to do it in a secluded space that is unobstructed.
- Stand at the start of the path.
- Stand straight with a relaxed body. Take three deep breaths to relax your entire body, from the top of your head all the way down to your toes.
- Stand naturally with your hands at the side.
- Stand still for about 30 seconds. Or as long as you like to feel comfortable, and be ready to start the walking meditation.
- Then start walking. The pace should be slightly slower than your usual pace.
- Do not try to analyze or break down the steps into separate movements. For example, lifting the leg, moving forward, etc
- Just walk normally.And do not walk too slowly. Being too slow can bring out tension in your body.
- Do not walk in rhythm with your break. As mentioned above, this is a mistake. You cannot concentrate on two things at the same time. Be mindful, and walk.
- Observe the sensations of your soles and feet. Notice how they feel when you move. Take note that this is very different from the above point 7. Here, you are feeling with your senses how your soles and feet feel as you walk.
- Look ahead. Do not look at anything in particular. Keep looking straight ahead. Do not look at your feet. Do not notice the things that you pass by as you walk. For example, flowers, trees, people. Pass by them with no interest.
- Remember the mind must be empty and silent. So, just look ahead and notice the path before you. But do not really look at it.
- Just be aware of the walking experience, and the sensations that arise.
- Enjoy the feeling of walking. Let no other thoughts intrude your mind.
- When you arrive at the other end of the path, stop and slowly turn around to face the path back to your starting point.
- Again, stand at that point for 30 seconds.
- Then start your walking meditation just like before.
- Walk all the way back to your starting point of this walking meditation.
This is a beginner’s walking meditation practice. As you continue and progress in your practice, you will soon relish it. You will eventually find it very natural to walk that way.
And after some time, you may even increase the pace to your normal walking speed.
Then a time will come when you will feel this awareness of your self and the world around you. Just like how I felt, in the true story I related earlier in this article.
This awareness comes with a very good feeling. Almost like a ‘high’.
Some people have even said that they feel like they were walking on air! When you achieved this state, you are mindfully walking. You become one with the universe.
A Guided Walking Meditation
I know the above is a lot to read in order to learn how to do the walking meditation. It is good to read and understand how to do it.
At the same time, I do recognize that it is better to practice walking meditation without having to read the text at the same time. So, I have created a video of the walking meditation. Here is is.
You can play it on your phone, with ear buds. The guided meditation will guide you, step by step on how to do it.
The walking meditation that my Spirit Guide taught me is a little different from the beginner level walking meditation above. I will be sharing it soon. Please join my I Love Good Health and Wellness community to receive email notification when I publish it.
We have come to the end of this article about the What is Walking Meditation and How to Practice It?, If you have any questions regarding anything mentioned here in this article, ANY at all, please feel free to ask by adding a comment in the comment box below. I will be more than happy to help.
Wishing you an awesome life filled with abundance, love and light.