Walking meditation is a form of meditation in action.
In walking meditation we use the experience of walking as our focus. We become mindful of our experience while walking, and try to keep our awareness involved with the experience of walking. Actually, there are several different kinds of walking meditation. We’ll just be looking at one of them in detail, although we’ll touch on the others. Once you’ve mastered one form, you’ll easily be able to pick up the others.
Obviously, there are some differences between walking meditation and sitting meditation. For one thing we keep our eyes open during walking meditation! That difference implies other changes in the way we do the practice. We are not withdrawing our attention from the outside world to the same extent that we do when we are doing the Mindfulness of Breathing or Metta Bhavana (development of lovingkindness) practices. We have to be aware of things outside of ourselves (objects we might trip over, other people that we might walk into) and there are many other things outside of ourselves that we will be more aware of than when we are doing sitting – especially if we sit inside. These include the wind, the sun, and the rain; and the sounds of nature and of humans and machines.
But one of the biggest differences is that it’s easier, for most people, to be more intensely and more easily aware of their bodies while doing walking meditation, compared to sitting forms of practice. When your body is in motion, it is generally easier to be aware of it compared to when you are sitting still. When we’re sitting still in meditation the sensations that arise in the body are much more subtle and harder to pay attention to than those that arise while we’re walking, This can make walking meditation an intense experience. You can experience your body very intensely, and you can also find intense enjoyment from this practice.
I am just starting an advanced meditation class. The practical purpose of meditation, as I see it, is that awareness gives us a choice. If our bodies are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired (HALT) and we do not attend to these needs, this is when we most often make bad choices. Unattended needs seem to divert us into addictive behaviors and/or bad habits.
If you want be happy, you have to know what you need. Meditation helps with that. If you are hungry, eat. If you are full, stop. Simple, but people who are not aware may eat when lonely, may snap at others when hungry, and so on.
In my class we recently tried walking meditation.
It reminded me of “not-doing” because we were walking very very slowly in a large group. While I doubt that the Casteneda’s stories are true accounts of real experiences, the lessons in his books are very interesting and sometimes very useful. By not-doing, or finding and breaking our habits, we build up a store of invisible personal power, according to Casteneda’s character Don Juan Matus.
If you do walking meditation, how do you do it?