walking has been used for meditation practice for thousand of years. it is said that gautam buddha used to practice sitting meditation and walking meditation alternatively.
this alternate sitting and walking meditation works perfectly as after 30 minutes or one hour meditation session you might feel sleepy or lazy. your energy becomes lethargic at times. so active meditation techniques like walking consciously is very good at that time. moreover in current time when most of us are doing sedentary work then walking meditation is very useful and meaningful. for some people watching thoughts come easily and for some walking consciously comes easily. it varies from person to person. the key thing is to learn the knack of witnessing from any meditation technique which comes spontaneously to you.
there are many ways or styles of walking meditation. here i am sharing the simple method which i follow. the crux of this method is the ability to walk consciously or be able to watch yourself walking. that is not to do absent minded walk which most people do but to walk consciously. if you can do things consciously then nothing more is needed. your consciousness will light your path to buddhahood.
if you know how to be a witness then you can use any activity for meditation. it could be listening, talking, seeing, breathing, cooking or anything else. the real thing is to how to be a witness of yourself in doing different tasks. so the main idea behind meditation techniques is to develop your witnessing center and the only way to increase your witnessing ability is to be more watchful of your thoughts, emotions and actions. the more you practice witnessing, the more it will increase. there is no other way to increase consciousness than to practice witnessing in real life situations.
how to use walking as meditation practice:
1. walk slowly
one of the easiest tip for beginners in meditation is to do things slowly. whether it is walking or talking or doing any act consciously. you have to slow down. because it helps you to be more attentive of the things you are doing. it not only helps in being mindful but it also helps in doing things correctly with less mistakes.
so relax yourself and walk slowly and don’t be in a hurry. don’t take big steps. do your natural comfortable walk. but walk straight. try not to look here and there. focus more on walking consciously rather than seeing things which can distract your attention. best is to walk where there is not much traffic and you can focus more on walking than on worrying about traffic. if you can practice it near nature like beach or garden or river side then nothing like it.
2. take each step consciously
as you walk, bring your whole attention to the walking. don’t do absent minded walk when we are thinking about something while going for a walk. when you are walking then walk consciously. be totally present in the moment. watch yourself taking each step. find a pace of walking which is comfortable and allows you to watch your steps. for beginners its not a bad idea to take baby steps. do everything which makes your walk conscious.
3. feel each step
when you put your foot down then feel the pressure and the contact with the earth. notice yourself lifting one leg and putting it down on ground. notice the whole walking process. the idea behind this is to be a watcher otherwise you will get lost in the thinking process. the whole knack of meditation is to develop your witnessing center. you should somehow learn how to be ‘here now’ or be present in the moment and do things consciously.
4. don’t think while walking
while walking you will get many thoughts or emotions. instead of getting involved with them, be a passive watcher of them. watch your thoughts and emotions. don’t suppress them. don’t think that you are suppose to walk consciously so why should you watch your thoughts. we have to use every opportunity to increase our witnessing. so when thoughts come witness them and then bring your attention back to walking. don’t suppress anything and don’t get attached to any emotion. stay detach, aloof and a watcher of every phenomena.
5. watch your body walking
you don’t need to put effort in walking. let the body walk and you maintain a distance from it so that you can be a passive watcher. many of our body activities like listening, breathing, seeing etc don’t need our cooperation. so when using such activities for meditation, just be a watcher. because these activities will take care of themselves. so let the body walk and you put your energy in becoming a watcher. put your whole energy in watchfulness. when you do this then you will realize that your walk is becoming more natural, effortless and relaxed. it will release tension from your body.
the key thing is to be relaxed while walking. don’t put too much effort in walking, rather try to witness the whole phenomena. you can only witness yourself walking, if you are a passive watcher or not involved in the walking process or there is a gap (or distance) between the walking process and the watcher.