We usually think that meditation is done sitting, but it can also be beneficial to practice walking meditation. In this case, walking with the eyes open, one is more mindful of the outside world. The purpose of a walking meditation is to cultivate awareness, and to use the very act of walking as a focus of your concentration thereby allowing you to have a wakeful presence. Once mastered, this wakeful presence can be carried over into more active and engaged parts of your life, allowing you to be calm and peaceful in any situation. In the Bible, Jesus expressed an aspect of this concept as being “in the world but not of it.”
There are several ways to include walking as part of your meditation practice. All these ways encourage keeping a focus on the breath, and music can also be involved. Walking in silence is good in and of itself, but if you choose to add a musical element, you may wish to use headphones and listen to meditative music as you walk mindfully. Another way to use music is to chant a mantra, say an affirmation, or sing a prayerful song as you walk. Any of these will help you to stay focused and centered, and to get more out of the experience.
Simple Walking Meditation Techniques
A simple walking meditation technique is to walk in a small designated area, either inside or outdoors. You can walk back and forth from one point to another, or you can choose to walk in a circle. Begin by standing tall with your eyes closed and with your arms resting comfortably at your sides. Feel the ground beneath your feet and notice the environment. Take a few deep breaths then open your eyes. As you take a step forward, notice the shifting from one foot to the other while keeping a centered balance. Walk slowly with a sense of relaxed ease and dignity. Maintaining a stately posture, with shoulders relaxed and a soft gaze a few feet ahead without focusing on anything, but with awareness of all, will help make the experience more meditative. Walk for a period of your choosing and then stop and let yourself feel the peace of the experience.
You may want to walk outdoors on a longer familiar route that allows you to feel safe enough to have a more inward focus without being distracted by the scenery. Another idea is to walk without a goal or destination, but rather to walk more randomly in nature or around your neighborhood. Some people may choose to begin by walking fast and then to gradually slow down, letting their thoughts slow down as the walking slows down.
The most important thing is to be mindful of the body and the environment so as not to stumble or step into danger. One can synchronize breath and movement, taking several steps during each inhalation and each exhalation, paying attention to each step and each breath. Walking can also allow a person to be more attuned to the natural world. As you walk, keep your attention on your breath as well as your mantra, affirmation, or chant if you are doing one of those. You could also try singing and making up little songs and chants on your daily walks.
Years ago, my mother began a practice of walking for a mile around the apartment compound where she lived. I would imagine she was doing the walking to lose weight or enhance her physical health, but she also noticed an added benefit. She told me “I don’t know what this walking is really doing for me, but I feel so noble when I am walking.” So, in fact, a walking meditation can add to the stately and noble sense of who we are as divine beings.
Walking a Labyrinth with Mindfulness
Walking a labyrinth is a form of walking meditation that can symbolize a journey to the center of oneself. A labyrinth is not a maze. It is not a mystery or a puzzle to be solved. There is only a single path which leads one ever deeper into the center of the spiritual spiral. Once one has reached the center, the path leads back again to the outer world.
The labyrinth is an archetype found in many religious traditions and it dates back thousands of years. Entering the labyrinth, one steps into a sacred space. While walking the labyrinth, one can also be mindful of walking and breathing. When the center is reached, there can be an acknowledgment of the moment, a pause, a prayer, and then one turns and slowly navigates the path back to the outside world.
Mindful Exercise 1:
Walk mindfully around your neighborhood in silence.
Mindful Exercise 2:
Walk mindfully in nature chanting a mantra, toning, or humming.
Mindful Exercise 3:
Find a labyrinth and walk it.
Mindful Exercise 4:
On a picture of a labyrinth, follow the path with your finger.
Mindful Exercise 5:
Wash your dishes singing or toning in meditative calmness.
Copyright 2018 by Dudley Evenson and Dean Evenson.
Reprinted with permission of the authors. All Rights Reserved.
Published by Soundings of the Planet. http://soundings.com/
Quieting the Monkey Mind: How to Meditate with Music
by Dean Evenson and Dudley Evenson
Quieting the Monkey Mind shares some basic principles of meditation along with a wide array of sound tools and practices that can be used to take one into deeper states of inner peace and meditative bliss. No matter where you are in your meditation practice, this book presents useful tools and techniques that will allow you to access deeper levels of inner stillness leading to a more rewarding sense of self and personal empowerment.
About the Authors
Married since 1970, Dudley and Dean Evenson are internationally renowned musicians and co-founders of the respected music label Soundings of the Planet. They have produced over 80 albums and videos and have performed their music and meditations worldwide with such luminaries as the Dalai Lama, authors Joan Borysenko, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, Larry Dossey, and many others. Find out more about them and their work at http://soundings.com/
Music by the Authors