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What is Walking Meditation?

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  • Written By: wiseGEEK Writer
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 13 June 2018
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Walking meditation can be loosely defined as mindfulness during walking and it is contrasted to sitting meditation. There are many forms of walking meditation and a few moments of reading on the subject can confuse people about how to begin. Each form may direct people to walk in slightly different ways, which may change the experience, and many types suggest people focus on various areas of the body while paying attention to breath or breathing in certain ways. Given the variety, describing all kinds of meditative walking is challenging.

In a basic, fundamental breathing meditation, the person sits comfortably and follows the path of the breath. They take note of feelings or thoughts that interfere with this process and push them aside, refocusing on breath. Breathing meditation of the most primary kind doesn’t involve specific types of breathing, such as inhaling or exhaling for set periods of time. Instead, it just follows normal breathing.

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Similar to this is basic walking meditation, though it should be observed that the body is in movement and the eyes have to remain open to prevent accidents. Rather than adopt a specific walk or breathe in a prescribed manner, people walk at a medium pace and breathe normally. Focus of the meditation is on feeling the body in the presence of walking. How do the feet connect with the earth, what are the sensations of the legs, how do the hips and arms move, what is the position of the neck and so on?

Answering these questions in the act of walking is a way to increase mindfulness. The person becomes more aware of a simple act that they’re likely to do often but ignore most of the time. Just as with breathing meditation, walking meditation can magnify awareness of fundamental acts that occur in daily living.

There are a few necessary elements to walking meditation. It’s best to try this in quieter areas because it’s hard to meditatively walk on busy streets or in crosswalks that are notorious for cars running red lights. In all environments more awareness of surroundings is required than is usual with a seated meditation. Getting lost in the meditation could mean stumbling or tripping by accident. Awareness must remain high enough to avoid potential problems, and choosing a locale to walk may help this to a degree.

Once people have experienced basic walking meditation, there are modified forms to try, which focus on feeling certain things during a walk, such as the feet kissing the ground with each step or the breath entering and leaving the body in prescribed ways. Alternately, people can meditate on basic ideas while in movement, instead of while sitting. Lots of books and CDs/DVDs exist on how to expand walking meditation in other directions or how to incorporate it into specific spiritual meditative practices. Meditation classes or retreats may also teach this form of moving mindfulness.

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