It isn't always necessary to sit in silence with crossed legs in order to meditate or benefit from the meditation. Walking meditation is an excellent example of this. Walking meditation requires the use of focus much in the same way as other types of meditation. The difference is that the focus is placed upon the walking experience.
With walking meditation therefore, we are mindful of the experience of walking; the movement of our legs, the movement of our arms. We focus upon the rhythmic motions of walking. Walking meditation also differs from traditional meditation in that we are aware of and participating in our surroundings. Whereas with the usual types of meditation, one withdraws into silence and closes the eyes. Obviously we can't do that with walking meditation because we need the eyes open to see where we are going and to watch for dangers and obstacles. So while we are focusing on the rhythm of our walking movement, we are also aware of the sights, sounds, and sensations around us.
It is actually easier for many people to focus and meditate in this environment, and therefore are more successful with walking meditation than with the more traditional sitting forms of meditation. It is easier to be aware of and focus upon your body while it is in motion; the experience can be powerful and a source of deep enjoyment.
A few different types of walking meditation have evolved; however walking outdoors is the most common. To give walking meditation a try, find an open space like a park or empty parking lot where you can walk safely for about 20 minutes without the worry of encountering traffic or crossing busy streets.
How to do walking meditation
Once you have selected the ideal location for your walking meditation, follow the guidelines below:
Begin by Standing
Begin to focus upon your body with the simple act of standing. Notice how your body feels and be aware of the constant little adjustments your body makes in order to maintain balance. Feel the weight of your body pressing through your feet and onto the earth.
Walk and Focus
Once you have placed your full awareness onto your body, begin the walk. Walk with your usual stride and pace, not too hurriedly. There is no need to try and change the way you walk, all you need to do is be aware of your body walking. Keep your focus upon your body and feel it moving. Be aware of your feet as one raises and then the other. Become aware of all the tiny little sensations in your body from the feeling of your feet inside of the shoes, to your knee as it bends to lift your leg. Stay relaxed, relax your eyes and just let the scenery flow past you. Your goal is to be relaxed and bring your focus onto your body.
Become Aware of Feelings
Once you are fully aware of your body, switch your focus onto the feelings or sensations that pass through your body; not necessarily emotional problems, but rather the overall tone of your feeling of the moment. Are you happy? Bored? In a hurry? Pass no judgment on the feeling and don't analyze it. Your goal is to just become aware of it and then move your awareness on.
Balance the Inner and Outer
Alternate your awareness between the inner, your feelings, and the outer, your body. Play with the awareness, and focus upon them in equal balance. When you are able to do this, your mind reaches a state of stillness and clarity. Your mind becomes calm. Your goal is to balance your awareness of the inner with the outer.
End by Standing
After you have completed the above steps and brought your awareness into a balance of the inner and outer, bring your body to a natural stop and once again experience yourself standing. Bring your awareness to the feelings in your body as you stand in place. When you are ready, bring the walking meditation to a close.
Selecting the appropriate location for your walking meditation will be an important consideration as you can imagine. It is not necessary to find a place of solitude, but you do need to find a location where you will be safe if your full awareness is not upon the environment around you.
Sarah Thomas is an established freelance writer. You can find more of her writings at meditationteam.com and anxietysos.com.
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