When You Walk, Just Walk
The natural ease of walking can be used as a direct and simple way to bring centeredness and peace into our life. Walking becomes a meditation when we bring a careful and present attention to each step we take. Walking becomes a meditation when we feel ourselves fully here on the earth.
To learn walking meditation, select a place to walk back and forth at a leisurely rate, fifteen to thirty paces in length. Stand at the end of this “walking path.” Feel your feet on the floor, on the earth. Sense the environment around you. Be aware of yourself and your surroundings until you feel quiet and composed. Then begin to walk. Focus your attention on your body, feeling each step as you lift your foot and place it back on the earth. As you sense each step, return your foot to the earth with care.
Walk upright in a relaxed and dignified fashion. When you get to the end of your path, pause briefly and then turn around, Stand and center yourself then and be aware of the first step as you begin again. You can walk at whatever speed keeps you most present.
Walk with careful attention to each step for fifteen or twenty minutes. Usually when we walk we are distracted by a hundred other things. As you walk in meditation, try to let the thoughts and images that arise remain in the background. Even so, you will regularly get carried away by thoughts. When this happens, simply stop walking and be aware of the thoughts. Then quietly re-center yourself and take the next step. Keep coming back to your footsteps in this simple way. At times you may wish to do a period of walking meditation alone. On other days you might walk for ten or fifteen minutes before beginning a sitting meditation.
After some practice you can learn to use walking meditation to calm and collect yourself, to become truly present in your body. You can extend this walking period in informal ways, when you go shopping, when you walk down the street or to and from your car. You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of combining it with the usual planning and thinking. In this simple way you can move through life wakefully, with your whole body, heart and mind together in harmony.