Walking meditation is an important tool for any practitioner. Unfortunately, it isn’t a practice most people learn, and when it is, I’m not entirely sure that it is taught in a potent and helpful way. Here are five reasons why walking meditation, when done correctly, can be a game changer for your practice.
- It’s an easy object to work with. Let’s face it. Sometimes working with the sensation of breath can be difficult. Whether it’s because you can’t quite find the sensation of breath at your nostrils because of how subtle the sensation is or you find your mind wandering off that subtle object very easily, focusing instead on the sensation at the soles of your feet can offer a more gross sensation to work with.
- It can offer your body a rest from a seated posture. Changing up your posture in meditation can give your body a needed rest. Knowing how to use walking meditation to break up the monotony of your daily practice can offer a breath of fresh air into your practice. It’s also extremely helpful during retreat, when your body can become achy and irritable from sitting in the same position for many hours.
- Working with attention vs awareness. Placing your attention on the sensation found at the soles of your feet while opening up to your peripheral awareness while engaged in walking meditation is an exceptional way to work with attention and awareness. If you haven’t received these instructions and aren’t using both attention and awareness in your practice, this is a game changer. Walking meditation is one of the best ways to do so.
- Taking your practice off your cushion. One important aspect of a strong meditation practice is the translation of your work and time on your cushion into your life. The basis of walking meditation is your walking gait, ergo your walking meditation practice is a reflection of something you do regularly…but slowed down. By habitually practicing walking meditation, it gives you another opportunity to tune in and slow down anytime you’re feeling overwhelmed or ungrounded in your life.
- Moving out of your mind and into your body. Increasingly, I find working with the soma more and more important. Whether it is moving through a body scan or working with the 5 senses during a formal meditation practice or moving from my thinking mind into my feeling body during a stressful moment, having this practice to tap into at any time is unbelievably useful. During walking meditation, we are placing our attention at the opposite end of the body from the thinking mind and this offers us a somatic gap between thinking and feeling during our practice!
I know a lot of sanghas will have you walk slowly in a circle during retreat. I personally find that to be a very difficult and uninspiring walking experience and it made me resist walking meditation for years! The walking meditation we teach on Mind Oasis is very different and can be done in small spaces or out on a hiking trail.
On the 17th of July, join Joseph Schwartz, a movement master, as he offers a 3-hour Walking Meditation Master Class. Beyond a potent walking meditation practice, he will couple the offering with sitting, standing, and lying down. All four modes are helpful tools to have in your meditation toolbox. You may even go from a meditation dabbler to an inspired practitioner!