Your Walking Meditation can be just as profound an experience as your seated meditation – if not more so.
Created on the streets of New York City, our approach to your Walking Meditation is simple and straightforward. It is a more advanced approach that will help you bring your entire meditation experience off your pillow and into your life no matter where you go. We do recommend that you become familiar and comfortable with a seated meditation practice before starting a meditation practice while walking.
You should be comfortable keeping a degree of separation between you, your thoughts, and the sights and sounds you will inevitably encounter along your path. In this way you can gently place your awareness and your energy on each step you take, rather than on the distractions your brain will inevitably create as you pass through the world around you.
While there are a number of different styles to try, our variation is informal and easy. It allows you to be more present in your body and in the moment. The simple experience of attaching your breath to every step will create a natural flow as you drop into a deeper and deeper meditative state. This will enhance your experience and deliver a richer and more profound meditation practice no matter where you are along your path.
Every step will reward you as you grow more aware of what it is to be in your body. You will learn to pay attention to your thoughts, and you will notice how much of the world you normally miss as you travel through it. You will also grow more attuned with how often you can get caught up in your mental world, planning, dreaming, thinking of what calls you have to make, rather than enjoying the world right around you.
Paying attention to your five senses as you walk will help you enjoy the scents, the sights, the sounds and the feelings of being alive. It is a moment of awakening in many ways, a moment of enlightenment, not to be taken lightly.
Where should you Walk?
Before starting your walking meditation, we recommend selecting your path. It will be one less decision you have to make with every step. Start with a brief seated or standing meditation to quiet your mind. This can range anywhere from 5 to 10 minutes. It can also extend to as long as twenty minutes or more, depending on your level of experience.
Try to avoid layering your walking meditation with other tasks. That means do not try to save time by running errands or squeezing a few minutes of exercise into your already busy day. Allow yourself some time to simply meditate with every step, free from cell phones, free from task lists, and free from feeling the need to walk fast. Allow yourself the time to take a break from your everyday life so that you can create your own experience and simply Let Go.
Whatever style you practice matters more less than the environment you practice it in. Whether on the streets of New York City or the mountains outside of Denver, whether urban or suburban, sandy or wooded, the key to a pleasurable experience lies in your ability to treat every outside experience that you come upon in the same way as you would a thought – acknowledge it, label it, and then let it go as you return your attention to your steps and your breath.
Smile as you let your mind go, to enjoy the wonderful cacophony of the world around you. Repeat to yourself that every sight, sound, feeling, and smell is nothing more than an experience. They are neither good nor bad. It is up to you alone to place them into those boxes. Just keep in mind that whichever box you place them in will determine how you live in your world – for better or worse.
The Simple Truth Approach
The Simple Truth approach to your Walking Meditation was created in the urban environment of New York City. It empowers you to truly be calm in the center of the storm spiraling around you. Just remember, while it was created for the streets of New York it can be followed in any setting.
The Simple Truth method allows you to be more present in your body no matter what goes on around you. So pause before you take your first step. Give yourself permission to grow aware of the environment you are in. Take a deep breath as you make a mental note of the temperature and the sky. Hear and smell, feel your weight upon the earth and allow yourself to be comfortable in the world you are in.
Ask yourself, are the skies clear? Is it raining? Is it cold or comfortable? Are you in a forest or in the midst of buildings? Are the sounds that of traffic or of leaves rustling? Simply assess your setting without judgment and without making a mental comment.
To start, breathe in through your nose, down deep into your lungs. Feel your belly expand as you inhale and be aware of the sensations within your body. Exhale through your nose as you take your first step into the world before you. Smile as you feel the sole of your foot pressing upon the earth beneath you. Feel your weight settle.
Shift your weight, take your next step, and align your breath with that step. Begin to walk in a slow and relaxed, even pace. Use your count to line up every step with your breathing in a way that is comfortable for you.
You may want to use your steps to count each breath. Take a comfortable pace. For you that may mean enjoying a six count for both steps:
- Inhale: Step left – 1, 2, 3
- Exhale: Step right – 4, 5, 6
Just make sure you are comfortable with your breathing, your stepping, and your count. They should all work hand in hand, in harmony. Take the first few steps with the sole intent of finding your pace, and smile as you do.
Continue walking, breathing, and treating the world around you as an extension of your own mind, because that is truly what it is.
Be well, and I hope this helps.