Walking meditation is a valuable form of mental training that builds awareness, serenity and improves concentration. It can expand your meditative practice to entirely new levels of insight! When practicing a walking meditation, the object of your attention should be the actual process of walking itself, paying close attention to the physical act of placing one foot in front of the other.
There are many benefits to practicing a walking meditation:
- You are far less likely to fall asleep or become tired because you’re moving and concentrating with your eyes open.
- Another advantage is of benefit for those who attend meditation retreats. During these retreats, you are often expected to meditate for several hours a day. A typical sitting meditation can become uncomfortable after a long time, so adding a moving meditation – such as walking – will make you more comfortable and allow you to continue your meditation.
- Finally, practicing walking meditation greatly develops mindfulness in your daily life. If you can learn to establish awareness during walking meditation—when you are physically moving with your eyes open—then it will be easier to do it during other activities, such as vacuuming, eating, washing dishes, or driving. It will be easy for you to be mindful while walking kids to the bus stop, grocery shopping or during any other time. Mindfulness will become a part of your every day life.
Walking meditation is best practiced on a path rather than casually walking around. The path should be straight, level, and have a smooth surface. It is also helpful if the path has a clear beginning and an end. Walk between these two points, being attentive and mindful of each step. Choosing a path with a beginning and an end is important because they provide structure for the meditation and help you become for aware. Whenever you come to the end of the path, you will automatically be reminded to acknowledge whether the mind has wandered or if you have remained mindful during your walk. This way, you can re-establish focus more quickly and thus sustain awareness.
Beginners should practice walking meditation for 15 to 30 minutes and build from there.
Here are instructions on how to practice a walking meditation from Yoga Journal:
You should now try to center yourself by putting aside all concern for the past and future. In order to calm the mind and establish awareness in the present, abandon any preoccupation with work, home, and relationships, and bring the attention to the body.
The meditation exercise is simply to walk at a slow, relaxed pace, being fully aware of each step until you reach the end of the path you are walking on. Begin with the right foot. While taking that step, pay careful attention to the movement of the foot as it is initially raised off the ground, moved through the air, and placed on the ground again. Then take a step with your left foot, being equally attentive. Continue walking in this mindful and methodical way until you have reached the end of the chosen path.
If while walking you become aware that your mind has wandered away from the step, clearly note the distraction and gently, but firmly, bring your attention back to the step. It is often helpful to make a mental note of “right” and “left” with each corresponding step, as this keeps the mind more involved with the act of walking.
When you arrive at the end of the path, stop for a moment and check to see what the mind is doing. Is it being attentive? If necessary, re-establish awareness. Then turn and walk back to the other end in a similar fashion, remaining mindful and alert. Continue to pace up and down for the duration of the meditation period, gently making an effort to sustain awareness and focus attention on the process of walking.
According to the article, the purpose of a walking meditation is to train your mind to always be in a mindful state. That way, you can incorporate the practice into everything you do.