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How to Start a Walking Meditation Practice

how to start a walking meditation

how to start a walking meditation

Instructor John LeMunyon, co-owner of Heartwood Yoga and Body-Centered Therapies ( in Birmingham, Ala., is a licensed massage therapist and registered yoga teacher whos been meditating for over 25 years.

What is it? This component of numerous meditation traditions slows the walking process with the intention of bringing into awareness its most basic partslifting the foot, swinging it, placing it downin order to bring a greater consciousness to daily life. When we break down the motion of walking, we realize how each action is actually a collection of sub-actions, and how the mind and body work together to create physical movement. This is not walking for transportation, its walking as a tool for developing mindfulness in the present moment, says LeMunyon.
You can practice walking meditation by itself, or combine it with one of the seated styles. Used as an interlude, the walking technique is a good way to embody the insights gained during seated practice and heighten their relevance to daily life.
Walking meditation shows clearly the Buddhist precept that all action is preceded by intention, says LeMunyon. Theres always an intention, and when we are present to the moment there is always a choice. Its at the level of intention that we make our choices of how skillfully we want to live our lives.

Whats it good for? When you find yourself restless or agitated, a physical practice like walking is a great way to quiet the mind and find grounding in the body. It can also help ease the transition from sitting meditation to the motion of real life, and vice versa.

How long does it take? To begin, try walking for about 15 steps in two directions, about five minutes. Beginners can try interspersing this with five minutes of sitting meditation.

mindfulness walking

mindfulness walking

How Do I Do It?
1. Find a private place indoors or out with level ground and at least 20 feet of space.

2. Stand in a relaxed position with your feet parallel, shoulders loose, arms draped at your sides or clasped lightly in front of or behind you. Focus your eyes softly on the ground about 6 to 8 feet ahead (looking right at your feet can be distracting).

3. Breathe in again as you lift the heel of your right foot. Pause and breathe out, leaving your toes resting on the ground.

4. Breathe in as you slowly swing your right foot forward. Place the heel of your right foot on the ground as you exhale and roll the rest of the foot down, transfering your weight so its balanced equally between both feet. Pause for a full breath.

5. Repeat with your left foot, matching each movement with an inhalation or exhalation, and continue for about 15 steps. The goal is to keep your mind fully focused on your bodily sensations; it may help to think or softly say, lift, pause, swing, place, transfer, pause as you perform these movements.

6. When youve completed your paces in one direction, come to a stop with your feet parallel, and pause for a few breaths. Then turn slowly, using the same movement pattern, and match each movement of your turn with an inhale or exhale. Pause again, facing the path you just walked. End by retracing your steps back to where you started.

Tip: You may feel self-conscious walking this way, so try it in your hall or backyard rather than a park where onlookers may distract you.

adapted from Natural Health Magazine, By Frances Lefkowitz

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