Four Benefits of Walking Meditation

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.

 

 

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Mindful Walking: Four More Ways to Do Walking Meditation

30-DAY MINDFUL BLOGGING CHALLENGE – DAY 3

“Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
~Thich Nhat Hanh

Yesterday, I wrote about four ways to practice walking meditation:

  • Movement of legs and feet
  • Respiration
  • Body sensations
  • Sounds

Today, I’ll discuss four more ways to practice mindfulness during walking meditation:

  1. Sights:
    During mindful walking, we usually keep our eyes downcast to avoid being distracted. However, when we practice mindful seeing, we can look around and 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.
  2. 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 nature of the mind and as soon as we become aware of this, we bring our attention back to the object of meditation.
    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.” Whenever a thought arises, we understand, “At present, this thought has arisen in the mind.” And so on.
  3. Mental states:
    Sometimes, we may give attention to our present mental state. For example, “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.
  4. Loving Kindness (mettā):
    In this meditation, we consciously generate good will for ourselves and for all beings.
    For example, we may think,
    “May all my thoughts, words and deeds lead to my happiness, my welfare 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.”Similarly, we can 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 can 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. This is a good time to share merits with those who have passed away.

So, you can use these eight different ways to practice walking meditation, especially if you find it difficult to practice sitting meditation.

Walking Meditation Action-Step:
Set a timer for ten minutes and try mindful walking. You can focus either on
mindful seeing
mindfulness of thoughts
mindfulness of mental states or
loving kindness (mettā).

Join the conversation:
Have you ever practiced walking meditation?
What was your experience?
Let us know in the comments below.

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Mindful Walking: Learn Four Ways to Do Walking Meditation

30-DAY MINDFUL BLOGGING CHALLENGE – DAY 2

“Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
That way, when you criticize them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
~Author Unknown

I recently attended a five-day Mindfulness Workshop from 1 to 5 June 2016 conducted by Prof. P. L. Dhar. It was organized by Col. Dr. V. R. R. Datla and Mr. K. Madhu at the Ratnapuri Institute campus in Medak Dist, Telangana.

What I liked best in the workshop were the mindful walking sessions. These were 20-minute sessions of walking meditation that were interspersed with the formal sitting meditation sessions.

One of the special features of walking meditation or mindful walking is that you can use it to develop mindfulness in four different ways:

  1. Movement of legs and feet:
    This is the easiest way to meditate during walking. We pay attention to the movement of the feet and legs during walking. We can be aware of the four components of walking – that is,
    lifting of the left foot,
    the forward movement of the left foot,
    the placing of the left heel on the ground,
    and finally, the placing of the rest of the left foot on the ground.
    This is followed by awareness of similar movements of the right foot and so on.
  1. Respiration:
    Instead of movement of feet and legs, we can choose to be aware of the incoming and outgoing breath. When the breath is coming in, we are aware: “Now the breath is coming in.” When the breath is going out, we are aware, “Now the breath is going out.”If it’s not clear whether the breath is coming in or going out, we can breathe a little deeper so that the awareness of incoming and outgoing breath is absolutely clear. Often the mind may wander and we may lose awareness of the breath. As soon as we realize this, says Prof. Dhar, we should smile and understand, “My mind has wandered,” and bring our attention back to the breath.

The mind is bound to wander again and again. Our  job is to bring it back to respiration as soon as we realize that the mind has wandered without feeling any discouragement or sense of defeat.

  1. Body sensations: Sometimes, we can experience whatever sensations we can feel on the body such as warmth, cold, itching, pain, etc. Alternatively, we may feel the touch of the clothes or touch of the air, anywhere on the body.
  1. Sounds: During mindful listening, the focus of mediation is at the “sense doors” of our ears. We listen to whatever sounds we can hear and are aware of them without judgment or reaction.

So, walking meditation is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness, especially if you find it difficult to practice sitting meditation.

Walking Meditation Action-Step:
Set a timer for ten minutes and try mindful walking. You can focus either on
the movements of your legs and feet,
on your incoming and outgoing breath,
body sensations or
mindful listening.

Join the conversation:
Have you ever practiced walking meditation?
What was your experience?
Let us know in the comments below.

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How to Practice Mindfulness Meditation Right Now

30 Day Blogging Challenge (Day 2)

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space.
In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response.
In our response lies our growth and our happiness.”
~Victor Frankl

mindfulness meditation

There is no longer any doubt about the benefits of meditation. Scores of research papers have documented the positive effects of meditation on physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health.

However, among all diverse types of meditation practices, the most popular worldwide is mindfulness meditation.

 What is mindfulness meditation?

Oxford Dictionaries Online defines mindfulness as a mental state achieved by focusing your awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.

Founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction program, Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn defines it more simply: “Mindfulness is paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

So, being mindful means to be attentive to whatever is happening within you and around you.

How to practice mindfulness meditation

Imagine you’re sitting alone on the bank of a river, watching the river water flow past. All your attention is on the swiftly-flowing water without undue effort – your body and mind is relaxed and yet aware.

Sometimes, the flow of the water is fast; sometimes, it is sluggish. Sometimes, the river flow silently; sometimes, it rushes past noisily. And sometimes, it seems that the river isn’t flowing at all. And you witness all these different states of flow calmly, silently, effortlessly.

Similarly, during mindfulness meditation practice, we direct our attention to the flow of our incoming and outgoing breath.

Sometimes, the breath may be short or long or it may be rough or subtle or sometimes we cannot feel the breath at all. Our only work is to be a witness and to observe the breath as it passes in and out through our nostrils.

  • When we breathe in, we are aware: “This is incoming breath.”
  • When we breathe out, we are aware: “This is outgoing breath.”

This practice may seem simple and straightforward but, as you will discover, it’s the most difficult skill to develop. And the only way to understand mindfulness is to practice it yourself.

Don’t take my word for it. Try it yourself right now.

Actionable tip

Set your timer or smartphone alarm to ring after two minutes.

Sit upright, close your eyes and breathe deeply five times.

Now allow your breath to become normal and witness your incoming and outgoing breath.

Continue until the alarm goes off.

Do this right now.

Done?

Congratulations, you have just practiced mindfulness meditation.

Did you observe your breath for two minutes?

If yes, what was your experience?

If no, why didn’t you try it?

Share with us in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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