How to Do Walking Meditation
Walking meditation as a practice comes from the Buddhist tradition, specifically Theravada Buddhism. It is a very helpful practice if you find it difficult to sit still without physical discomfort while meditating. It can also be rotated with sitting practice, for example 15 minutes sitting practice 15 minutes walking meditation.
There are three primary components to a walking meditation:
1: Being aware of your breathing
It may be a good idea to begin by standing still and attuning to the breath before you begin walking.
Become aware of your breathing by first noticing the movement of the body as you breath. See if you can notice the exact moment you begin to inhale, and follow the movement as breath enter. Then see if you can notice the exact moment when the inhalation completes, notice what happens next. And see if you can identify the exact moment exhalation begins and just when it finishes. Notice what happens next.
Do your best to let your body breath, after all it does it all by itself 24/7 since you were born. All you are doing is paying attention to the process. Maybe the process changes because you are paying attention but let go of trying to control the breathing.
Spend a few minutes walking just with attention on the breath entering and leaving the body, let go of any unnecessary tension around the breath as it enters and leaves.
2: Being conscious and attentive to your body's movement.
Pay attention to your body's movement. Start to notice the contact with the earth on the soles of your
feet as you walk. Notice which part of your foot makes first contact and how the rest of your foot comes down. Feel how the weight of your body is transported forward onto the leading foot as you walk. Notice what muscles come into action and when. Also notice how your breathing has changed as you walk.
Notice how your arms swing as you walk along. Feel how you hold your head and neck, is it rigid and tense or fluid and moving? Switch your attention to different body parts as you are walking and you may be surprised at what you find. Do you feel the air brushing onto your skin, the warmth of the sun? Can you feel your heartbeat, or notice blinking?
Do our best to keep some degree of awareness on the movement of the body as it breathes and notice if it changes and why.
3: Paying attention to your surroundings
When you consciously begin paying attention to your surroundings, you'll probably be surprised at just how much you notice. We tend to take lots of things for granted in our everyday life and much of what is around us goes largely
As you are doing walking meditation, notice the different colors that you see. Notice how the color of things changes as you move. Is the quality of light constant or changing? Notice that the green of a tree for example is actually many varieties in color and hue. You'll find that once you start this attuning process, you'll notice more and
more things that have previously escaped your attention.
Also pay attention to what you hear and smell. There may be bird song, road noise or the chatter of people or animals. Consciously tune in to these different sounds. Notice the sound of different birds, different vehicles. Listen for subtler sounds as you tune in to the soundscape that constantly surrounds us. You'll find yourself hearing things that have merely passed you by before. There are also plenty of smells around you what can you identify as you focus on this sense?
Once you've completed your walking meditation, take a small amount of time to just be still. In this stillness, observe you state now. Then mentally run through what you experienced during your walking meditation time. See how long you can maintain this openness of awareness and carry it from walking meditation into your life.