Day 24 – walking meditation

An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day – Henry David Thoreau

A walking meditation is also great for jet lag, I have found, since you have to be awake to walk. You also need to have your eyes open. Today we are walking down the pier of Manhattan beach, LA, so I decide to make the entire pier a moving meditation. An important thing to do before a walking meditation, if you are with people, is to let them know that you are meditating. If they don’t know you are meditating, you may seem rude when they try to talk to you, or you will get seriously distracted when they say “look at that!” The one thing that separates walking meditation from just walking is the practice of mindfulness. So we already know from the pranayamas and other meditations that mindfulness is just the focusing of the awareness on the subtle part of the practice. For walking meditation, it may be the feeling of the feet on the ground, or the steady breath as you walk.

When walking for exercise, it is easy to let the mind go on overdrive and when I am walking around I often find a stream of consciousness that goes something like this… “Wow what a nice day. It’s a bit cold. Don’t forget to put that jumper in your bag. Oh and then take that other bag out of the car. Ooh look at her shoes. That bird just swooped at that bike rider. Careful, there’s a car! That car is dirty. My car is dirty. I need to go to the car wash. I can do that after I get a coffee. Look at that…” And so on. When walking for meditation, there is nothing to think about besides walking.

To begin the meditation, it is best to bring the attention to the sensations of walking in the feet, then the ankles, calves, knees, hips, pelvis, stomach, spine, shoulders, neck, face and head. As I find my centre, my body relaxes into the rhythm of walking. I focus on the feeling of clothing as I move and the physical aspect of walking as well as the weather. Today it is cold, windy and there is a light rain. My sunglasses are slowly flecked with drops of rain and my fingers and face feel the chill of the winter winds. I withhold my usual habit of reading every piece of text around me and I try not to notice the curling waves on either side of the pier or the beautiful big pelicans surfing them. At the end of the pier, I circle the small kiosk and as I come to stand still I am greeted by the sight of some massive dolphins swimming around by the pier. I stop to watch them and when the rain starts to come down heavier, we decide to leave the pier. As I walk back down, I once again enter the rhythm of the walking meditation. Getting back to the car, I stop and stand for a few moments, grounding down through my feet and allowing some deep breaths to bring me out of the meditation and back into real life. Although I have been in the real world the whole time, I also feel like the walking meditation had me on another plane, spiritually.

I really like this walking meditation and when we go camping this week into the Mexican desert, I would like to try some other variations of walking. Slight variations could definitely change the entire blessing of the walk.

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