If you haven’t heard about the miraculous benefits of meditation by now, I am impressed. The news is everywhere, meditation is great!
But for those of us who have spent hours in meditation, and have experienced the blissful feelings that come with it, we may have realized that these meditative states tend to be delicate and fleeting. Any minor stressor can set us right back to where we were, a worry ridden mind that struggles to stay present.
How can we ride this meditative wave longer? Is it possible to stay in a meditative state throughout the whole day?
Of course! This can be done with the practice of walking meditation. Walking Meditation was made famous by the venerable Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh.
If you are unfamiliar with meditation, you can learn more about it by reading this article. It will provide you with the basics of sitting meditation- which must be mastered before taking your first step into walking meditation.
Walking meditation will provide you with all of the benefits of sitting meditation, plus a few extras. The primary difference is that walking meditation will increase your mind’s ability to maintain a meditative state through distractions. It will also provide you with the ability to “recharge” your meditative state throughout the day.
How to Practice Walking Meditation
1. Obtain a Timing Device- Just as with sitting meditation, a mala can be your best friend. This ancient device is the perfect companion for meditation. As for walking meditation, you can purchase a wrist mala. I wear one all the time. It’s easy to slip off real quick to fit in an on-the-fly meditation session. It also serves as a reminder to return to your meditative state when not in use. My wrist mala was my best friend through college. I would use it before big presentations, nerve wracking debates, and even to deal with normal stressors.
2. Select a Location- This step depends on what your day consists of. You can turn your walk to the bus stop into a meditation session, or your walk to the cafeteria during your lunch break! It just requires some creativity. It is best to select a time and location where you don’t feel rushed, and can dedicate at least 10 minutes to walking meditation.
3. Take a step- Begin by placing your wrist mala between your thumb and middle finger, in a way in which you can comfortably rotate the beads towards you. Simply take a deep breath in while focusing your full attention on the sensations associated with it, and begin walking slowly, then exhale, again focusing your attention on your breath. Keep your attention trained on your breath for the first five to twenty steps, until you feel a meditative state coming on.
4. Shift your meditative attention- At this point shift your attention from your breath to the sensation of each step. With each step, tell yourself “I have arrived,” and visualize yourself arriving into present reality. Do this until you feel your mind settle. If done correctly, it should feel as though a fog is clearing up around you, and reality is becoming much more lucid. It is as if you are stepping into heaven, or arriving with your full attention into God’s creation (or the universe’s spontaneous existence, if that’s your philosophy). This is a unique meditative state and comes with a huge variety of benefits.
5. Keep Walking- Allow this meditative state to stay with you as you walk. Attempt to stay in this state until you make it to your destination. You will find that this brief period of meditation is actually quite powerful, and will stay with you for quite sometime. This is because it allows your brain to feel more comfortable remaining in a meditative state while your body is moving. Sitting meditation doesn’t come with this perk.
6. Sit down, and shift your attention back to your breath- After your walk is complete, find a place to sit and allow your attention to return to your breath. You can sit in this stage as long as you would like. Just use this time to ground yourself. You may say a prayer, or give thanks to those you love at this point. Or you can just sit back and enjoy the feeling of being recharged.
Walking meditation can be easily incorporated into your daily routine and brings with it tremendous benefits. If done correctly, you will be able to retain your meditative state throughout the day. You will also have the ability to return to it if anything knocks you off balance. This is a great practice to have in your inventory.
If you have any questions, thoughts or concerns regarding this practice, please mention them below.