How To Meditate III - Walking Meditation
How to Do Walking Meditation
Walking meditation is a form of meditation in action. In walking meditation, you use the experience of walking as your focus. You become mindful of all of the thoughts, sensations, and emotions you experience when you walk. This awareness of your body and mind can help you relax and clear your mind.
Positioning Your Body
Choose a place to walk.It can be inside or outside, as long as it's relatively quiet and peaceful. Avoid steep hills, or places where you'll have to stop a lot. You will need a space where you can walk back and forth for at least 10 - 15 paces. If you are in a public place, find a spot where you will not be disturbed by other people.
- Before you begin walking, do some stretches. Rock from side to side and from front to back. Make sure your spine is straight, and you have good posture. If you are indoors, try walking barefoot or in socks.This may make it easier for you to be aware of your feet as you are walking.
- Practice walking meditation indoors before you begin walking outdoors. There will be fewer distractions. Also, walking meditation often looks strange to other people. You do not want to be concerned with how other people will react to you.
Start walking.Take 10-15 steps in one direction while breathing normally. Pause after you have finished your steps and then breathe again. Take as long as you like. Once you are finished breathing, take 10-15 steps in the opposite direction. Pause and breather again. Continue this pattern for at least 10 minutes.
- If counting the number of steps you are taking is distracting, pick a defined point on the path where you will turn around.
- You can also meditate by walking in a straight path. Do not feel obligated to pace back and forth as you meditate.
Pace yourself.You can walk at any speed that choose. However, it is best if you walk slowly and take small steps. Choose a pace that feels natural and that is comfortable for you. Let your arms and hands move naturally as you walk as well.Walking meditation should not be strenuous or cause you to feel out of breathe.
- Try different paces each time you meditate until you find a pace that works best for you.
- Remember that you are walking to connect to your body and mind, not to get in a good workout.
Combine your breathing and steps.Walking meditation helps create unity between your body and your mind. Breathe in as you take two or three steps. Then breath out and take three, four, or five steps. Modify the amount of steps you take with each breath. Find what is comfortable for you.No matter what breathing pattern you use, your breathing should remain slow and relaxed.
- It may take a few times before you find your breathing and walking rhythm.
- Avoid holding your breath as you are walking. Also, if you find yourself getting out of breath, inhale and exhale more frequently.
Focusing Your Mind During Meditation
Use a gatha.A gatha is a short verse that you silently recite to help you focus your attention during meditation.This is particularly helpful if you find your mind wandering when you are trying to meditate. Take two or three breaths as you recite each line:
- Say "I have arrived" as you breathe in. Say "I am home" as you breath out.
- Say "In the here" as you breathe in. Say "In the now" as you breath out.
- Say "I am solid" as you breathe in. Say "I am free" as you breath out.
- Say "In the ultimate" as you breathe in. Say "I dwell" as you breath out.
Be aware of your body.Start with the part of your body that is closest to the ground and work your way up.Begin with your feet and then move to your ankles, to your shins, your calves, your knees, your hips, your pelvis, your spine, your stomach, your shoulders, your arms, your neck, and then lastly your jaw.Being aware of your body does not involve any thinking per se. Instead you are noticing the different sensations and how your body is moving.
- Notice how your feet feel touching the ground.
- Notice how your muscles contract as you take a step.
- What kind of sensations are you experiencing in each part of your body?
- Do you feel your clothing touch your knees or your stomach as you take a step?
- How does your hip change positions as you lift your leg up or put your leg down?
- Notice how your arms and shoulders swing as you walk.
Be aware of your feelings.As you meditate you will have feelings associated with your body and feelings associated with what you hear and see as you are walking. You may have feelings of comfort, discomfort, pain, pleasure, like, dislike, or neutral feelings. There are no right or wrong feelings. Accept whatever you feel. You do not have to fight your feelings or try to change them.
- Do you feel any pain in your body as you are walking?
- Is the scenery pleasant as you walk?
- Do you like or dislike the sounds that you experience as you are walking?
- Is any part of your body uncomfortable as you place your foot on the ground?
Be aware of your mental and emotional states.The emotions you experience while you meditate will change. They can be affected by what is happening in your life at the time or the type of day you have had. Your emotions may also change during the course of your meditation.
- For example, if you had a hectic time at work, you may feel stressed or anxious at the beginning of your walk and feel more relaxed as your walk continues.
Be aware of objects of consciousness.You will experience many different thoughts and emotions as you meditate. As you experience them, categorize them into thoughts and emotions that are negative and those that are positive.Positive thoughts are thoughts that you want to keep. Negative thoughts are thoughts that you want to get rid of.
- For example, you notice that your shoulders are tense as you are walking, and you categorize this as something negative. You choose to relax your shoulders and cause tension to be released from your body.
- There are no right or wrong thoughts or emotions when you are meditating.
Develop your ability to focus.It may be difficult to be aware of your body, feelings, and emotions as you meditate. Start by only focusing on your body as you meditate. Once you feel comfortable with that, incorporate being aware of your feelings and thoughts. Gradually build up your ability to be aware of all of the different factors.The more you practice the better you will become.
- When you first start practicing devote 20 minutes to walking meditation because it may take you longer to focus. Once you have gotten the hang of it, you can incorporate this practice into your daily life. Meditate while you walk from your car to the grocery store or walk up a flight of stairs.
- Modify your focus based on your needs. If you want to become more aware of your feelings while you meditate, you can focus on your feelings only and not include awareness of your body or thoughts.
Live in the moment.Focus on the journey, not on the destination. Focus on the moment, not the past or the future. If your mind wanders, let it. Watch those thoughts pass, and let your mind come back to the present, to your breath. Take each step with the same intention and continue to be present.
- Have no destination to which you will walk. Walk just to walk and with no particular goal in mind. When having a destination you are in the mindset of getting to that place only making the walk a means to the end.
- With walking meditation walking is an end in itself so you are complete as you practice it. This will assist you being in the present moment rather than thinking about the future.
Understanding Walking Meditation
Improve your mental health.Regular practice of walking meditation reduces depression,anxiety, and worry.If you are already seeing a therapist for your anxiety and/or depression, walking meditation is a great supplement to your therapy. The awareness and focus that you practice when you meditate can give you greater insight into your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. This improved insight will make your therapy sessions more effective.Image:Do Walking Meditation Step 12.jpg|center]]
- Try doing 20 minutes of walking meditation, 3 times a week to get these benefits.You should see changes in 8-12 weeks.
- Walking meditation will also help you when you try to concentrate or focus throughout the day.
Improve your physical health.If you practice walking meditation regularly, you can lower your blood pressure, decrease risk factors for cardiovascular disease, and decrease chronic pain symptoms. You can experience these benefits whether you are in good health or if you are managing other health conditions.
- You will usually experience some of these benefits after practicing walking meditation regularly for at least 8 weeks.
- You are also getting in some physical activity when you practice walking meditation. You may experience weight loss and improvement in your physical functioning as well.
Know the purpose.Life is very busy. You may be rushing to get from one place or always thinking about what is next on your to do list. Walking meditation gives you an opportunity to slow down and tune into your mind and your body.
- Walking meditation is based on Buddhist teachings that focus on the importance of living in the moment and being mindful. Mindfulness is achieved through by reflecting on your feeling, body, mind, and mental objects.
- If you have tried some form of meditation before, it may be easier for you to get in touch with your body by practicing walking meditation instead of other forms where you are sitting.
- This might be difficult at first, but you'll get better at it with practice.
- Consider listening to some sort of guided meditation as you walk.
- Preferred walking path distance can vary. Test out what works best for you.
Video: How to do walking meditation - A simple guide
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