Those of us who are lucky enough to be able to walk, do so at least a little bit every day. Yet, when the word meditation is tacked onto it and we are invited by a teacher to do some walking meditation, many of us become clumsy and off balance. We may even begin to wonder how to walk, even though it is an activity we engage in all the time. It becomes something we take for granted, and when we begin to concentrate we stumble.
Buddha said of himself and his monks: “When we walk, we know we are walking.” So, whenever and wherever we walk we can practice meditation. All we need do is pay attention, be in the moment, and breathe.
Do you jump in your car to go two blocks to the corner grocer? Do you hop on a bus to travel a mile to the movies? Do you drive to the train station in the morning rather than walk the half mile? If so, these are perfect opportunities to grab some quiet time and get some physical exercise, as well.
Give yourself a little extra time and set out walking to your destination. Choose a posture and pace that feel comfortable and that suit your body.
Begin walking slowly, inhaling and exhaling deeply as you do. Concentrate on your breathing as you walk.
As your concentration deepens, you will become keenly aware of, but not distracted by, your surroundings. By softly focusing your eyes about three feet in front of you, your concentration will improve.
Try this walking exercise once or twice, and observe your state of mind when you reach your destination. I find that I’m relaxed and yet alert at the same time. Colors are deeper, images are sharper, and sounds are crisper. I have more patience in the slow-moving bank or grocery line.
There are many occasions during the day to practice quiet walking. Walk the stairs at work rather than take the elevator; practice a version of quiet walking as you walk the dog. Use your imagination, and remember to breathe.