By Rohi Shetty
“Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom.
To do this you have to learn to let go.
Let go of your sorrows, let go of your worries.
That is the secret of walking meditation.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation is a great way to learn how to be mindful even if you have never practiced meditation before. There are many ways to practice walking meditation.
In the last article, we have learned four ways to practice walking meditation:
- Mindful awareness of the movement of legs and feet
- Mindful awareness of breathing
- Mindful awareness of body sensations
- Mindful listening
Now, let us learn four more ways to practice mindfulness during walking meditation:
- Mindful seeing: During mindful walking, we usually keep our eyes downcast to avoid being distracted. However, when we practice mindful seeing, we can look around, notice the sky, trees, birds, or any other object, and try to be mindful of whatever we are seeing. Similar to mindful listening, we can mindfully pay attention to the objects that we see while walking without judgment or reaction.
Of course, we can also keep our eyes downcast and be mindful of the ground and other objects. Meditators who practice in this way often report finding money on the ground that others who rush about might not have noticed.
- Mindfulness of thoughts: During meditation, our mind tends to wander away from the chosen object of meditation: it may wander to events in the past or the future, it may roll in memories and fantasies, either pleasant or unpleasant. We soon realize that this is the natural tendency of the mind. Usually, as soon as we become aware of this, we bring our attention back to the object of meditation, which may be the body movement, breath, body sensations, etc.
However, when we try to be mindful of thoughts, we pay attention to whatever thoughts are going on in the mind.
Rarely, when there’s no thought, we understand, “At present, there’s no thought in the mind.” Then, whenever a thought arises, we understand, “At present, this thought has arisen in the mind.” And so on.
- Mindfulness of mental states: Another wonderful way to practice walking meditation is to be aware of our present mental state.
For example, we may notice, “At present, the state of the mind is distracted,” or “The present mental state is drowsiness,” or “At present, the mind is calm.”
We note our present mental state moment by moment without judging it or reacting to it.
- Loving Kindness (metta): In this meditation, we consciously generate good will for ourselves and for all beings. Metta meditation is a great way to consciously develop positive feelings such as good will, gratitude, and forgiveness.
For example, we may resolve to live a wholesome life:
“May all my thoughts, words, and deeds lead to my happiness, my wellbeing and my liberation from all suffering. May all my thoughts, words, and deeds lead to the happiness of others, the welfare of others, and the liberation of others from all suffering.”
Then, we may practice gratitude:
“I am grateful to anyone and everyone who had helped me in any way, large or small, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly.”
We may practice forgiveness:
“I forgive anyone and everyone who may have hurt me in any way, large or small, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly.”
We can practice asking for forgiveness:
“I seek forgiveness from anyone and everyone who I may have hurt in any way, large or small, directly or indirectly, knowingly or unknowingly.”
Finally, we can practice sharing our merits with all beings, especially our parents, family, teachers, and friends, and all beings. Merits are your wholesome thoughts, words and deeds that support and promote peace and happiness in the world. This is also a good time to share merits with our near and dear ones who have passed away.
So, you can use these four additional ways to practice walking meditation. These can also be practiced as part of conventional sitting meditation practice.
Walking Meditation Action-Step: Set a timer for ten minutes and practice mindful walking. You can focus either on
mindfulness of thoughts
mindfulness of mental states or
loving kindness (metta).
Join the conversation:Have you practiced walking meditation in any of the above four ways? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below.
(16 November 2016)
Rohi Shetty has published nine Kindle books on Amazon. If you want a free review copy of his next book, The Ultimate Guide to Walking Meditation as well as admission to the companion course, leave a comment below.