Instructions on Walking Meditation

walkingmeditation

WALKING MEDITATION: Walking a Path
By Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Walking meditation is a good transition between maintaining a still mind when the body is still, and maintaining a still mind in the midst of all your activities. As you walk in a meditative way, you gain practice in protecting the stillness of the mind in the midst of the motion of the body, while at the same time dealing with the fewest possible outside distractions.
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An ideal time to practice walking meditation is right after you’ve been doing sitting meditation, so that you can bring a mind already stilled, to at least some extent, to the practice.
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Some people, though, find that the mind settles down more quickly while sitting if they’ve done a session of walking meditation first. This is a matter of personal temperament.
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If you’re meditating right after a meal, it’s wise to do walking meditation rather than sitting meditation, for the motion of the body helps both to digest your food and to ward off drowsiness.
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There are two ways of practicing walking meditation: walking back and forth on a set path, and going for a stroll. The first way is more conducive for helping the mind to settle down; the second is more convenient when you don’t have access to an undisturbed path where you can walk back and forth without rousing curiosity or concerns from other people.
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WALKING ON A PATH

Choose a level path anywhere from 20 to 70 paces long. Ideally, it should be a straight path, but if you can’t find a straight path that long, try an L-shaped or a U-shaped path. If you’re going to time your meditation, set the timer and put it someplace near the path but facing away so that you won’t be able to see how much time is left while you’re walking.
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Stand at one end of the path for a moment. Gently clasp one hand with the other, either in front of you or behind you, and let your arms hang down comfortably. If you have your hands in front of you, have both palms facing your body. If behind you, have both palms facing away from your body. Close your eyes and check to see if your body feels properly aligned, leaning neither to the left nor to the right. If it feels out of alignment, relax the muscles that are pulling it out of alignment, so that your body is as balanced as possible.
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Bring your attention to the breath. Take a couple of long, deep in-and-out breaths, and focus your attention on the breath sensations in one part of the body. It’s usually wise, in the beginning, to choose a point anywhere on a line drawn down the middle of the front of your torso. If you focus in your head, you tend to stay in your head: You don’t get a clear sense of the body walking, and it’s easy to slip off into thoughts of the past and future. If you focus on a point on one side of the body, it can pull you out of balance.
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However, if in the beginning you find it hard to keep track of a still point in the torso, you can simply stay aware of the movement of your legs or feet, or of the sensations in your hands. As your mind settles down, you can then try finding a comfortable place in the torso.
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Breathe in a way that allows the spot you’ve chosen to feel comfortable, open, and refreshed.
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Open your eyes and gaze either straight ahead of you, or down at the path several paces in front of you, but don’t let your head tilt forward. Keep it straight.
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Make sure that you’re still clearly aware of the point of your internal focus on the breath, and then start walking. Walk at a normal pace, or slightly slower than normal. Don’t gaze around while you walk. Maintain your inner attention at your chosen point in the body all along the path. Allow the breath to find a comfortable rhythm. There’s no need to breathe in sync with your steps.
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When you reach the other end of the path, stop for a moment to make sure that your attention is still with your chosen point. If it’s wandered off, bring it back. Then turn to face in the opposite direction and walk back to where you started, maintaining focus on your chosen point. Stop at that end of the path for a moment again, to make sure that your attention is still with your chosen point. Then turn to face in the opposite direction and walk back again. If you find it helpful in calming the mind, you can decide beforehand to turn either clockwise or counter-clockwise each time you turn.
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Repeat these steps until your predetermined time is over…”

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Thanissaro Bhikkhu
Excerpt from eBook:
“WITH EACH AND EVERY BREATH”
IV – Meditating in Other Postures:
Walking Meditation

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RELATED:
Standing Meditation

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