Now don’t get too excited, this is still a form of meditation and requires a specific mindset in order to master it, but it has the added advantage of allowing your body to move so that you don’t get twitchy trying to sit still on a cushion or bored having your eyes closed. But before you get started there are some things you will need to do.
1). First of all, pick a place to practice.
One of the great things about walking meditation is that you can do it anywhere. You can pace the circuit of your living room, trace the boundaries of your yard, walk the length of your street, find a jogging track or bike path where you have a long stretch of dedicated pavement, or haunt a local park. The choice is entirely yours. Keep in mind however, that the point of the exercise is meditation, so the quieter and more peaceful the setting, the better your chances of getting this type of meditation to work.
2). Second, choose a length of time to walk.
Walking meditation is usually practiced for a minimum of 15 minutes and a maximum of an hour. Some individuals who practice an hour’s worth of meditation a day find it helpful to break up their meditation into chunks, having two sets of sitting meditation (20 minutes each) bookending a 20 minute walking meditation so as to keep themselves interested.
3). Third, wear comfortable clothes, including comfortable walking shoes.
Buddhist monks who practice walking meditation do so barefoot or in sandals, but unfortunately here in the west if you are not in your own home it is usually illegal to go barefoot. To get the best benefit out of this kind of meditation, make sure that you wear loose fitting, comfortable clothing that will not bind or bunch. Comfortable walking shoes are recommended, though if you can possibly manage barefoot shoes (the ones that look like gloves for the feet) or water shoes, they are the best as they come the closest to letting you walk barefoot.
To Start Your Walking Meditation:
Start walking – without a destination in mind – not counting numbers of laps if you are on a track, simply walking. Start at a fairly fast pace; faster than you would normally walk (this helps to get any residual energy out of your system). Gradually adjust to your normal walking speed. Keep your stride smooth. (Note: Eventually you will want to slow your stride even further until you can walk with a smooth stride – but very slowly. This will not happen right away but comes after you’ve been practicing walking meditation for a while).
As you walk – be mindful of your breathing. You are not controlling your breath, not counting your breaths, simply breathing as deeply and as rhythmically as possible. Make sure that you take complete breaths filling your lungs completely and then totally emptying them.
As you walk do not focus on any one thing (this is why shopping malls or crowded city streets are a bad idea). Let your eyes go unfocused. If you wear glasses, take them off and allow your vision to slide over what you are passing without focusing on any one thing.
Smile with your eyes. This is a way of bringing your inner self into connection with your physical self. Feel a smile in your eyes – as if you are smiling with your eyes (or from your eyes). Let the smile spread across your face and then through your entire body until every cell of your body is smiling. Let every single worry and concern that you have fall away as you smile. It can’t stay in your body while you’re smiling and every cell in your body is smiling.
As you walk, walk in silence. Don’t speak or sing and don’t allow any thoughts to intrude. Push them away with your smile. There is no room in your mind for anything else besides your smiling cells.
Find your natural pattern of breath/step. After a while you will find a natural pattern of the number of steps per breath cycle (so many steps while breathing in, so many steps while breathing out).
Continue your smiling and walking until your time is up.
Like the breathing meditation it may not at first seem as if this is actually “doing” anything, but if you keep at it you will find that your ability to clear your mind is enhanced quite dramatically after only a few weeks of practice.