All our daily activities can be transformed into a meditation provided that we have awareness as our objective.
Walking meditations are lovely and can bring all the same advantages as a seated meditation. Bodies were made to move and the rewards of moving our bodies with awareness are tremendous. When we become aware of our bodies, and in turn our inner selves, we simply enjoy being alive and in the moment. So much mental energy goes into thinking and planning for the future or dwelling in the past. The past is the past; the future may or may not happen. Live for the moment and enjoy it.
Your walking meditation will be outdoors and you should try to walk for 15 to 20 minutes for starters. It is important that awareness is your objective and you should not combine your walking meditation with talking the dog for a walk or going out to post a letter. As with all meditations your mind should be free and unfettered.
Set the intention to be aware during your walk. Start your walking meditation with a few deep breaths to allow your focus to move to your breathing. After a few minutes move your focus to your body and how it feels be still. Think then about all the different sensations that are going on in your body.
Now start to walk, don’t rush. Walk at your normal walking pace. Keep your focus on your body not on what is going on around you. It’s natural to want to look and listen to sights and sounds as you go but keep drawing your attention back to your body, to what is happening to you on the inside.
Walking involves every part of your body, so make sure you give each area of your body the attention it deserves. Start with your head, your face – is it tense or relaxed? Is your jaw clenched with tension? Then move on to your neck – is it rigid or loose? Release any tension you feel on an exhalation. Let go. Next move to your shoulders. Are they hunched and tense? Observe how they feel and on the exhalation, let go. Move down your arms to your fingers, releasing any tension as you go. Think now about you back body. Is it straight or is it twisted in some way? Adjust it on your exhalations. Next, think about your chest. Could you free it up and breathe more easily? Let go on the exhalation. Is your abdomen tense? Recognise how it feels and make any adjustments. Follow this down your legs to your feet and toes.
Once you’ve done a first complete body check, go back and go deeper. Feel the sensation of your clothes against your skin, think about how your feet make contact with the ground as you walk. Once you’ve done your body checks, scan your body from time to time as you walk. This way you bring your attention back to your body if your mind has become distracted. Feel how the pace of your walking changing. Are you walking faster or more slowly than when you set off? Do you veer to one side or the other when walking or do you walk in a straight line?
Observing your body in this way focuses you and brings you into the present, thereby allowing your inner consciousness to become real for you. As with other meditations, programme your walking meditations into your routines and set aside a specific amount of time for them.