Walking Meditation

Reference: A Scientific Approach to Meditation

Walking meditation is very helpful when one finds sitting meditation hard to do. It extroverts one’s attention enough so that one can then sit down to meditate. A student may do walking meditation until he feels comfortable enough to do sitting meditation.

Walking meditation is done while walking in an open and pleasant environment, such as, in a farm, park or a garden. One meditates on the body and the physical environment while walking. Like in any meditation, the guiding principle is “being there and seeing things as they are.” Walking meditation may be done on the body or on the physical environment as described below.

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The Body

In walking meditation on the body, one allows stresses in the body to unwind, so the body regains its relaxed and natural form.

Once you start walking you, simply start observing the body without interfering with it.  Become aware of the natural pattern of your breathing. Notice the disposition of the various parts of the body at different times: in walking, turning, bending, stretching, stopping, etc. Get the feel of the clothes on the body, their weight, temperature, etc.

Do the above for a while and then start putting you attention on different body parts. Feel the sensations, aches or pains present in a body part.  Let the stresses in that body part unwind, so it becomes increasingly relaxed.

Whenever your attention wanders away in this exercise, bring it back to your breathing and start observing the body again.

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The Physical Environment

In walking meditation on the physical environment, one observes the physical environment until the perceptions become clear and sharp.

Once you start walking you, simply start observing the physical environment without interfering with the perceptions.  Use breathing as stabilizing factor, as before. At first you focus on sight. Notice the size, shape and color of the things in the environment and their overall visual pattern. Look as far as you can see.

Next focus on the perception of touch. Touch the bench, the swing, the bark of the trees, the leaves of the plants, the flowers, and other surfaces. Feel the different textures, the hot and cold temperatures, the bulkiness, etc. Experience as thoroughly as you can.

Next focus on the perception of hearing. Notice the quality, tone and loudness of sounds. Do this until your perception of hearing start to become sharper.

At the end of your walk you may go to a coffee or tea place. There you practice the perceptions of taste and smell in addition to the three perceptions above.

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Summary

The whole idea of walking meditation is to extrovert one’s attention. One then perceives the sensations, pains and aches in the body and the things in the environment from an extroverted viewpoint.

This exercise may be done again and again until one’s attention is extroverted and the perceptions of the body and the physical environment become clear and sharp.

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