Walking Meditation

There are many ways to practice meditation skills. One of my favorites is walking meditation. Usually, we walk because we want to get somewhere. We pay little attention to anything other than focusing on the destination. We think about, “I’m late, I should hurry!” or “When I get there, I have such and such to do at work” or “This is boring, can’t wait until  get there.” Walking, used this way, is a done to get away from being where we are, physically and mentally, away from the present moment.  It is an activity where we focus attention on where we are not and where we’d prefer to be. This kind of walking is not mindful.

Walking meditation uses walking as a skill to help us return to the present moment. That’s the inescapable truth: no matter where we go or how quickly we move to get there, our own thoughts and feelings are always with us. We can never really get away from ourselves. So, walking meditation is the skill of using walking to practice mindfulness, to return attention to the present moment.

How does your body feel as you walk? Notice your feet touch and leave the ground. Notice the movement if all the muscles in the legs, and the entire body, that are at work when we walk. Appreciate the process of being present while getting to where you are going. Make it simple: enjoy your walk for its own sake.

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about destination when walking. However, from the point of view of mindfulness, the journey is the destination. The destination or goal of mindfulness practice is to practice and experience mindfulness. Pay attention while you are getting there and pay attention when you are there. Practice mindfulness while walking and while being still. And don’t worry, mindfulness doesn’t have to slow you down if you really need to hurry. You can practice mindful running!

– Dan

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