what is it, its benefits, how to practice it
When we think of someone meditating, we usually imagine him sitting, legs crossed and eyes closed, isolated and serene in his world reachable through body stasis and mental training. In fact this is a possibility, but only one among many.
Walking meditation technique is often adopted by great businessmen and successful people who, even only in the spare time of the work routine, manage to discipline their mind through short courses, for example from the desk to the meeting room.
Benefits of Walking meditation
The walking meditation technique allows us to calm the mind while moving the body , according to a process that allows us to arrive at our destination with a clearer mind than when we started.
The first to practice this type of meditation was the Buddha himself , who during his 40 years of awakening walked barefoot through the various regions of India, alone or accompanied by a line of followers who joined him on the way.
Walking meditation is an excellent method to discipline the mind by increasing psychophysical well-being, improving the ability to concentrate, helping us to regain a good mood and increasing the perception of ourselves.
Despite the initial curiosity, the idea of starting to meditate while walking can be a bit scary: where do I start? How can I do? Will it really be useful to me?
Don’t worry – it’s easier than you think and I’m here to tell you how to get started.
The Buddha described five benefits of walking meditation:
- Cultivate fitness and body health
- Improve the ability to meditate
- It nourishes your body and your spirit
- What you eat, drink, chew and taste is digested properly
- Enlightenment ( samadhi ) obtained by walking lasts a long time
Everything we do can become meditative, including eating, driving, washing, cleaning the house, and of course walking .
Historically, Buddhist monks in India made walking a crucial part of their daily practice, staying mindful as they walked by doing their daily tasks. It was natural for them to turn the simple act of walking into an opportunity to develop loving-kindness and awareness .
Walking meditation also became a planned activity in which practitioners walked up and down (or in some cases along a circular path) for a set period of time, instead of practicing sitting meditation.
Periods of walking meditation help the body recover from any tension that builds up due to repeated inactivity. But it is also an opportunity to experience the body in action . In sitting meditation the body is still, while in walking meditation we can pay attention to the strongest and most easily observable sensations of the body as it moves.
Walking meditation is perhaps the most suitable form of meditation for the modern lifestyle , always on the move. Many people find it difficult to set aside time to sit, but almost everyone walks, even if it’s just a trip to the supermarket. And since most of us don’t get enough exercise, walking meditation gives us the opportunity to keep both body and mind healthy.
I know people whose minds are so restless that they find it difficult to sit down for even a few minutes, but who find it much easier to walk consciously. And there were times when I felt very agitated and found that walking mindfully helped me calm my mind.
Walking meditation can also be a lot of fun. It helps us enjoy the experience of having a body and can be very sensual and immensely pleasurable.
How to do Walking Meditation
Start indoors , away from prying eyes that may embarrass you and cause you to lose focus. It only takes 20 minutes: the first 10 to understand the mechanism and assimilate it and the following ones for the actual practice.
If space and time permit, I recommend that you do it outdoors , in the garden, and try both barefoot and with shoes.
There is no one-size-fits-all method for being comfortable with walking meditation. The sensations vary from person to person and trying each modality (inside, outside, with shoes, with or without socks, barefoot ..) is the right way to find out which one makes you feel more at ease.
- Start with your feet parallel and lift one foot slowly and safely. Bringing it forward, mentally repeat the word advance .
- Place the heel first and then the entire sole of the foot, experiencing the sensations that come to you in contact with the ground, and repeat in your head the word touch .
- As you shift your weight onto your foot in “exploration”, mentally repeat the word push .
- Raising the other foot begins to perceive the balance reached and mentally repeat the word stay .
You can rest the heel and then the sole and continue like this for as long as you want or need.
All that remains is to try and try again. Once you have made this first attempt, start applying it to your “life among others” (on the street, in the office, on your daily journeys).
In this second case it is easier to let yourself be distracted from the starting point (the past we are abandoning) and the goal (the future towards which we tend), but one step at a time you will be able to focus on the here and now and proceed towards the goal with awareness and a lighter heart than when you left.