Walking Meditation

Walking Meditation helps to focus the mind. Since we are walking almost throughout the day, being mindful of our movements helps us in being more aware, which is one of the aims of meditation. Walking meditation can increase the duration of our concentration.

In walking meditation, we have to pay attention to the walking process. Concentrate on the movement of the legs, how they go back and forth, the left leg, the right leg and so on. Feel the sensations in the legs while you walk. Concentrate on the lifting and placing of the foot. Separate the movements of lifting, moving and placing. When we make the effort to lift the leg, only then will the leg be lifted. It must be accurately placed on the ground otherwise the body may lose balance and fall. Complete mindfulness is required in walking. This leads to concentration. As we develop insight, we start seeing each movement more clearly. As soon as the brain gives the command to lift, within a second, the leg is lifted. We come to the conclusion that mind causes matter, the brain gives the command and the body follows the command. If we feel too hot while walking, the brain commands the body to look for and move to a shady place. However, the witness or the mind watches and realises that all these actions are impermanent, since they appear and disappear almost immediately. Can you identify each movement of your leg while walking? Every step comes and goes in a fraction of a second and cannot be differentiated from each other. This happens because of the law of cause and effect.

walking meditation2Walking Meditation is an important part of Buddhist Meditation. The meditators are first supposed to complete the Walking Meditation and then sit for the Sitting Meditation. Buddha’s eight fold path speaks of the right view or understanding, right thought or aim, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration. In walking meditation, we are able to fulfil five of these eight tenets i.e right effort, right mindfulness, right thought or right aim, right concentration and lastly right view when we get an insight into the law of cause and effect. When all these factors are present, we are fully conscious or aware.

As we keep watching the movements coming and going, we become free of all delusions and watch the world as phenomena which keep appearing and disappearing. This is similar to standing at the roadside and watching cars passing by, the example to which Gurumaa refers time and again. For a little while you are aware of the car, its colour, model, speed and the people inside it and then it vanishes. So it is with the phenomena of the world, it is here this moment and gone the next. So, the state of viewing all situations as a witness starts becoming permanent. We get freed from the illusion of permanence and continuity. We realize that what is here this moment, is gone the next. We start living each moment as best as we can as we realize that it is not going to come back again. Do you remember the song,’Aane waala pal jaane waala hai, ho sake to isme zindagi bita do, pal jo ye jaane waala hai?’ How apt. Careful attention in walking meditation frees us from all illusions. The happenings in the world do not affect us any more.

The benefits of walking meditation are :

  • One develops strong legs and can walk long distances.
  • It increases the stamina required for meditation since apart from the effort of walking i.e. lifting, moving and placing, we are to concentrate on the whole process of the movements which are enabling the body to move i.e. awareness of the movements.
  • Too much sitting makes us sloth and fat, it restricts our movement. It makes our body stiff and gives rise to aches and pains. So, a balance between sitting and walking is required in meditation.
  • Walking assists in digestion.
  • Walking meditation helps in improving concentration since we keep ourselves aware of the movements of the body.
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