Sunday, December 6, 2009

Walking Meditation Instructions

Richard over at My Buddha is Pink asked for walking meditation instructions. I'm sure others might be interested as well. Here is an except from a good description of the practice I just found.

1. It's wonderful to practice walking meditation any time that we are walking. When we're first learning the practice, however, it's best to set aside a particular time for it - say, first thing in the morning, or during your lunch break, or right before bed at night.

2. Walking meditation can be practiced indoors or outside. When the weather is nice, I like to practice outside, where I can be energized by the trees and sky. It's good to either go bare-foot (especially if you are inside) or wear shoes that give your feet and toes plenty of room to spread out.

3. Now, simply stand with your spine upright and your shoulders relaxed, letting your arms hang naturally by your sides. Take a couple of long, slow and deep breaths. As you exhale, let go of any unnecessary tension, smile gently, and let your attention flow deep into your belly, hips, legs and feet. Relax your pelvis, as though you had just mounted a horse. Feel your connection to the earth.

4. Next, begin to coordinate your breathing with taking small steps: as you inhale, step forward with your left foot; as you exhale, step forward with your right foot; and continue in this way. Let your gaze be focused gently on the ground in front of you. You can also experiment with taking several steps with the inhale, and several with the exhale. But keep the pace quite slow (slower than your habitual walking) and relaxed.

* The Zen-style walking meditation I was taught by teachers who learned it from Katagiri Roshi, founder of the Minnesota Zen Center, definitely emphasizes the slow. We try to feel the foot lifting with the in-breath, and coming down with the out breath completely. If you move this slow, you become intimate enough with your walking that you are able to let go of actually holding your attention on the physical aspects. They just happen.


Anonymous said...

Nice Description! Walking meditation or Mindful walking has been an aspect of my practice before I was even Buddhist. I try to get 45 minutes of walking meditation every morning before zazen. I definately emphasize a steady, normal pace rather than the slow that we do in the zendo between sittings.

The most important aspect to me is to focus on my breathing or (one of the few times in my practice) on a koan. The body movement, for me, fits in with contemplation - more so than zazen, which I try to focus solely on my breathing.

Definately an aspect of practice that doesn't get alot of press...except for a book by Thich Nhat Hanh which I can't seem to locate...



Richard Harrold said...

Thanks! I will definitely give this a try.