What do you think about when you walk? Your plans? Your problems? Things that happened earlier that day? Something you look forward to doing? I have walked “in my head” most of my life, but a few years ago I discovered a better way to walk.
When we think about “meditation”, most of us think about the lotus posture.
But there are many other ways to meditate, even when you don’t have the time to meditate. Or don’t find the lotus position comfortable.
One of these ways is walking meditation.
What Is Walking Meditation?
To me, walking meditation is being aware that you are walking. It’s diffusing your attention from your head, where it’s trapped for most of the day, to the rest of your body.
It’s being fully present in your feet and in your knees and in your legs and in the rest of your body.
It’s feeling the ground under your feet, the air that fills and then leaves your lungs, the heart beating in the nest of your chest, the warm flow of blood through your limbs.
In other words, the earth, the air, the water, the fire in you.
It’s being aware of your breathing, swinging with it like you were in an airy swing under the sky. And it’s letting your thoughts pass through you.
Being aware that you are walking when you are walking and breathing in and out your thoughts and the world can be calming and wonderful.
Why Walking Meditation?
I’m not going to list the scientific benefits of meditation. You probably know them already.
But consider this. You are going to spend a great deal of your life walking, whether for pleasure or, more often, because you have to get from one point to another.
From room to room, from door to door, from your house to the supermarket, from your street to the tube or your car, from tube or car to college or work, from work back home, from bookstore to bookstore, from year to year, from funeral to funeral: you’ll do a lot of walking in your life.
All that walking doesn’t have to be just a means to an end. It can be an opportunity to meditate. Each step. Each walk.
We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation is going to calm you and help you deal with stress. If you think too much, like I often do, it’s going to soothe your mind.
If it worked for me, an “unteachable” high-school drop-out, it should work for you, too.
If you get worked up about things, it’s going to help you relax.
It will teach you to listen to nature and appreciate that sunlight or moonlight that’s showering down on you.
If you’re an artist and want to nurture your creativity, it’s going to help you empty your thought basket of spent matter so it can receive new ideas.
And it’s going to make you see the world more clearly, both with your eyes and with your heart.
How I Do Walking Meditation
It’s easier to do walking meditation when you are just by yourself, at least until it becomes a habit.
Mind your breathing as you go, feel the in breath and the out breath.
Feel the ground beneath your feet, the motion of your legs, the solidity and fragility of it all, inextricably bound.
Anchor your attention on your breathing rather than on your thoughts. But don’t deny thoughts. Let them come and go.
Feel the elements in you, the earth, the air, the water, the fire. You are one with them.
Don’t rush but don’t walk like a swan who just grew legs, either. Don’t look all enlightened and important because you’re not.
If people see you, they shouldn’t have any reason to stare, they should just think to themselves, “Here’s a calm person who knows how to walk.”
Walk Like You Have Arrived Already
Don’t walk rummaging your thoughts all the time.
Don’t walk only to get somewhere.
Mind your breathing as you walk and walk with your whole being. You will feel wonderful.
Walk like that for at least one minute every day and you will feel complete. You will feel that you already have everything you could possibly have, and that whether or not you’ll reach your destination doesn’t matter, not on a fundamental, primal level deeper than thought.