30-DAY MINDFUL BLOGGING CHALLENGE – DAY 4
“Walk so that your footprints bear only the marks of peaceful joy and complete freedom.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Do you think that meditation should be done only in the sitting posture? Perhaps it’s because most if not all pictures of meditation display someone sitting cross-legged with eyes closed. Most meditation teachers also emphasize sitting meditation.
You may be surprised to know that meditation can be practiced in other postures as well. In the Satipatthana sutta, the Buddha advises us to be mindful in all four postures: sitting, standing, walking and while lying down.
However, if you meditate while lying down, you may tend to doze off sooner or later. And if you meditate while standing still, you face the risk of falling. It’s not easy or practicable to stand in one place and meditate for too long.
Walking meditation, however, is commonly practiced worldwide. In Thailand, meditators do sitting meditation alternately with walking meditation in retreats. In fact, many Thai monks use mindful walking as their main meditation practice. An elderly Thai monk was so fond of walking meditation that when he was no longer able to walk, he instructed his attendant to wheel him around his walking path!
Four Benefits of walking meditation
1. Counter drowsiness:
If you feel drowsy or sluggish, walking meditation is better than sitting with your eyes closed. Often we see not just students but even meditation teachers dozing off on their cushion, especially in the afternoon after lunch.
2. Combat agitation:
Similarly, if you feel very agitated, you may consider walking meditation instead of sitting. Walking mindfully helps to calm you when you feel restless and helps to dissipate some of the excess energy.
3. Combine meditation and exercise:
If you have too many responsibilities and have limited time for exercise and meditation, choose mindful walking instead of sitting meditation.
4. Counteract a sedentary lifestyle:
Reflect on this: we sit all day—during meals, commuting, all day in the office then at home. At the most, we may break this prolonged period of inactivity if we go to the gym for an hour or for a stroll.
In a recent interview with The Los Angeles Times, Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk, has summed up his findings about the adverse effects of our increasingly sedentary lifestyles in two sentences: “Sitting is more dangerous than smoking, kills more people than HIV and is more treacherous than parachuting. We are sitting ourselves to death.
So, if you sit all day, you are literally sitting your life away. Instead of sitting meditation, doesn’t it make more sense to practice walking meditation? (Yes!)
Walking Meditation Action-Step:
Try this right now.
Set a timer for ten minutes and try walking meditation.
While walking, pay attention to the movement of your legs and feet or your incoming and outgoing breath.
Join the conversation:
Have you ever practiced walking meditation?
What was your experience?
Let us know in the comments below.