Author Topic: Walking Meditation  (Read 3487 times)

Fritz-the-Cat

Walking Meditation
« on: February 02, 2009, 02:51:23 AM »
I first heard of "walking meditation" at a week long Vipassana and Holotropic Breathwork retreat about three years ago.  The retreat featured Stan Grof on the breathwork side and Jack Kornfield for the meditation. 

One afternoon, Jack introduced the concept of walking meditation.  (When I say introduced, I mean it was new to me).  Everyone in the retreat went outside and very slowly and mindfully walked.  I struggled with this.  When I'm outside in nature, I want to run, dance, listen to birds, smell the earth, hike through forests or anything other than walk incredibly slow and try to pay attention to each step, each breath and each thought.  So, I wrote it off as something that wasn't in me and that was better left with others who really seemed to enjoy this activity.

Well, over the last few months I have been spending a tremendous amount of time hiking.  I'm doing a lot of practice hikes for an eventual 5 month, 2175 mile trek.  Anyway, today I noticed something.  I noticed that I was, in my own way, doing a walking meditation.  I was strolling along paying very close attention to my breath and the sounds of nature and my footsteps on the trail.  When I noticed that I was noticing, I just noticed.  (If that makes sense).  Then I would find myself thinking about lunch.  Would I get to the bridge around lunchtime or would I need to pick up my pace?  I then realized I wasn't fully in the moment and was thinking about future events.  I could gently return my mind to being mindful of what I was doing.  Then I thought about how far I had walked, if I would need to refill my water bottles and what I would have for dinner.  Each time, I realized that I was drifting and returned back to being mindful of the present moment.  This went on for a while and I had to laugh.  This was the first time outside of sitting that I really felt "meditative."  I found that when I was mindful of what I was doing, the simple act of walking, I was extremely happy.  Today's 12 miles was the most pleasant hike I believe I have ever had. 

There is a saying among hikers, "Hike your own hike."  This basically means that you should do what you feel you need to do on the trail and not be talked into hiking more miles than you desire or change your plans for someone else.  The whole point is to enjoy your hike.  I bring this up because I think I have found a way to apply that to the walking meditation.  Rather than moving in slow motion, I feel I have touched the point of the walking meditation in my own way.  I also realize that although I initially felt that walking meditation as described was not for me, I now feel a bit more open to the possibililty that it could work out after all. 

Thought I would share this.   :) 

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
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  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2009, 10:02:22 AM »
Thanks for sharing. It sounds like a great breakthrough in awareness of your mental processes.

Walking meditation is taking meditation off the cushion in it's simplest form and can make long retreats with lots of sitting very bearable because of the movement and very useful because you are in a meditative state then take it straight into the world.

Meditation off the cushion, in every moment, is the aim of meditation on the cushion. That is why it is called practice - because no matter how much you sit on the cushion, the real stuff as a meditator comes off the cushion: when you can meditate whilst having a heated debate for example. Walking meditation is a step on the path.

Matthew
« Last Edit: February 02, 2009, 10:02:57 AM by The Irreverent Buddhist »
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mettajoey

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Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2009, 12:56:51 PM »
Great story, Fritz!
I love to hike as well and don't have much success with slow walking.  I love the buzz my body gets from the activity and the sense oneness I feel with nature on the trail.  I enjoy the challenges of hiking with my male friends but honestly prefer hiking with my girlfriend because we take more breaks and I'll often stop more for pics and just noticing what's around us.

What kind of 5-month hike are you in training for?
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Fritz-the-Cat

Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2009, 01:56:43 PM »
What kind of 5-month hike are you in training for?

I'm retiring in 20 months and have decided to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.   :o

It'll be a long trip but will probably be the only time I'll have a shot at it.  After finishing, my plan is to continue my education quest toward a Ph.D.  I figure 5 months of relative solitude will give me plenty of time to mull over the next chapter of my life.

I'd love to hike with my wife but she says she had enough of that in her youth.  While I'm gone, she's going to go to two schools (one in Florida and one in California) for life coaching.   

mettajoey

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Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2009, 09:50:21 PM »


I'm retiring in 20 months and have decided to hike the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.   :o
   

Wow, I wondered if that was it.  I live in Maine.  You'll be ending at the peak of Mt Katahdin.  I hiked that mountain in Sept '07 going up the Hunt Trail which is the very end of the Appalachian Trail.  Me and my gal did Old Speck last fall which is also going to be on your path. 

Well, my hat is off to you.  Many people consider doing the whole trail but very few do.  Good luck and update me/us on your training and adventure.
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

mettajoey

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Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #5 on: March 20, 2009, 11:34:25 AM »
The season for being outdoors is nearing   8)

How to Climb a Mountain

Some people say that mountain climbers are really wasting their time. They have nothing better to do so they climb mountains, tire themselves out, and come back with nothing to show for it. Yet a person who climbs a tall mountain sees the world and experiences nature in a very different way from someone who never leaves his own front door. Genuine mountain climbers do not struggle up great precipices for the glory of it. They know that glory is only a label given by others. A true climber climbs for the experience of climbing.

-Ch’an Master Sheng-yen, from Dharma Drum
The best type of meditation is the one that you'll do

Matthew

  • The Irreverent Buddhist
  • Member
  • Meditation: It's a D.I.Y. project.
    • KISS: Keep it simple stupid.
    • Getting nowhere slowly and enjoying every moment.
Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #6 on: March 20, 2009, 01:46:35 PM »
I like chair lifts :)
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Venture

Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #7 on: March 20, 2009, 03:00:06 PM »
Hahah Matthew



On walking meditation : I discovered this on my own, without any kind of instruction last year, when i was in China. I spend entire afternoons in the park, just walking. I took every step mindfully ( well, that was the aim ) and felt the movement of my body and the ground connecting with my feet, thought the soles of my shoes. For me, the trick was NOT to have a destination. I'd just walk wherever my feat took me, and I naturally slowed down my pase without thinking about it. I really enjoyed it, it felt very free.

I allso run a lot, and that is a meditation for me as well. I find it harder to concentrate, though. Because the speed is higher, so is the ammount of stimuli my mind gets, making drifting away to other thoughts and feelings happen more. it's allso harder for me to "just run" without a goal. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because running is so habitual for me.

To conclude : I think that it's easier for most people to walk slowly is because it's easier to stay mindfull of everything thats going on. If you're going twice as fast, there's at least twice as much stuff to keep track of :-) What do you guys think about that ?

Stefan

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Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #8 on: May 09, 2009, 09:36:50 PM »
Some people say that mountain climbers are really wasting their time. They have nothing better to do so they climb mountains, tire themselves out, and come back with nothing to show for it. Yet ...

...
the fool on the hill sees the sun going down
and the eyes in his head see the world spinning round.
I love the mountains!

And walking meditation is cool!
I also appreciate chairlifts ... and skiing slopes ... yiiihaaaaa
Skiing meditation is cool, too. If you jump thirty metres, time stops.
« Last Edit: May 09, 2009, 09:38:36 PM by stefan »
anicca

Hulk Hoagie

Re: Walking Meditation
« Reply #9 on: May 10, 2009, 03:45:33 PM »
i agree with everything you say fritz. a moderate pace with fresh air and pure awareness = some of the best 'meditation' i have ever experienced.

 

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