In the Theravada Buddhist tradition, walking meditation is an essential part of their training and lifestyle. In Thailand monasteries, many monks will walk for long hours as a way of developing concentrations – sometimes as much as ten or fifteen hours a day!
Of all walking meditations that I found, this is the one with the most elaborate mental aspect of the training.
This is the walking meditation with the slowest pace. I once did one hour of kinhin practice (during a night long meditation) and covered only about 150 meters!
The Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, which is a notable influence in the modern mindfulness movement and in modern Buddhism, has a simplified approach to walking meditation. Different from other techniques, this one makes use of affirmations in order to produce positive mental states.
You can learn more about his approach and philosophy through a book he co-authored.Are your customers raving about you on social media? Share their great stories to help turn potential customers into loyal ones.
This is an adaptation of traditional Buddhist walking meditation by the modern mindfulness movement. Instead of being a practice of concentration (focused attention) – as it is in the Theravada tradition – it is more of an open monitoring practice. In other words, the attention is not laser focused on the soles of the feet; instead, it is present to the variety of sensations and perceptions of the present moment.
Here are some pointers:
In the Yoga tradition, walking meditation is not as popular as in the Buddhist tradition, where this type of meditation is more emphasized. In traditional Yoga, meditation seems to be always seated.
The only practices I found were a couple by Swami Sivananda (in his old-school book The Science of Pranayama), and one by Swami Satyananda (in his book Sure Ways to Self-Realization) – of which I present adaptations here. If you know of other Yoga-based walking meditation, let me know and I’ll update this section.
The idea of this exercise is to coordinate different types of pranayama (breathing regulation) with the stepping. This is often more challenging, from a breathing point of view, than other types of walking meditation. Unlike other practices, in which we simply observe the breath, in pranayama we actively guide the breath. It may require some previous training in these breathing exercises in seated position for you to be able to do it comfortably.
Pranayama is a huge topic and there are many powerful practices. A more detailed exploration may be the subject of a future post.
Before starting any of the following exercises, take some time to really calm the breathing. Breathe with the suggested pattern for a few times, just standing, before you start with the steps.
In both cases, every step is one second.
In this exercise there is inhalation, retention and exhalation, all the same length.
You may increase or decrease the number of steps for each phase, according to your capacity. For instance, it could be 3-3-3-3 or 6-6-6-6.
Here, the rhythm for inhalation-retention-exhalation is 1:4:2, which is more challenging. You can start with 2-8-4 or 3-12-6, and increase by time.
This practice is traditionally called Chankramanam. Here you synchronize the mental repetition of a mantra with your steps.
Keep your pace and your breathing steady, and repeate your mantra with each step (if it’s a short one); or break it into a few steps (for longer mantras).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6eXyTL8-2_A In the Chinese tradition we find some walking meditations that are more focused on physical health; others use visualization to harmonize body and mind; and yet others are more “freeform”. Let’s discuss a few of these exercises here. They are presented in no particular order, and are not requisites for one another.
This is a technique taught in the lineage of Wang Liping.
A variation of this method is to hold your breath for the same number of steps, right after inhalation.
Walk normally, but focus your attention on the dantien. Feel that your body is being pulled forward from this center, effortlessly. If you habitually lead with the head, chest, or pelvis, you may find this exercise grounding and energizing.
The Daoist martial arts (like Taiji, Bagua, Xingyi) have very specific ways of walking. Although these do include some mental training as well, the emphasis is more on the physical health aspect, or on martial development. So I will not explore them in this post.
This employs the principle of non-doing (wu wei) to move without conscious mental effort, without destination or purpose, aimlessly.
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Meditation isn’t about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It’s about training in awareness and getting a healthy sense of perspective. You’re not trying to turn off your thoughts or feelings. You’re learning to observe them without judgment. And eventually, you may start to better understand them as well.
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