“Make the effort to let go of your worries” Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation is the perfect alternate if your body and mind are too restless to sit. Its also a lovely change from the usual meditation practices. No great skill or understanding is required simply the attention of your mind - on your breath, foot steps and the ground. Of course your body must also co-operate with a smile.
The beauty of walking meditation is that it can be practiced in your home, walking to your car, walking home from the shops, in nature or even in a public place. It is a marvelous healing tool for your body and mind to become one (via breath), to calm strong emotions, live more in the present moment, give focus to your inside world rather than your outer and draw excess energy and thoughts out of your head and back down into your body.
“Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.”
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
April Book Of The Month: Walking Meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh:
I have only recently deepened my appreciation for walking meditation. In the past, I always felt that a walking or active meditation was some how cheating. But due to my recent first hand experiences with it, and the guiding inspiration of a fabulous book called Walking Meditation by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and Nguyen Anh-Huong I now hold walking meditation dearly in my heart as a valuable practice.
The most difficult learning part for me was to slow down from my normal walking pace. I love walking and I love walking fast so it took a little practice before I could ease myself into the gentle, slow pace of a walking meditation.
I’m thrilled to share this book with you, as my featured book of the month.
The Walking Meditation book is short, simple and very easy to read. All instructions are super clear. An added bonus is that it comes with an instructional DVD and a CD that includes 5 walking meditations. What more can you need. From memory I only paid around $15.00 for it on amazon. Great value I thought.
The Aim Of Walking Meditation:
There is no goal. Walking meditation is not about arriving at your destination or rushing to finish your walk, but simply being mindful that you are walking and that you are breathing. Your destination is here and now.
Walk leisurely and peacefully, with soft eyes and gentle belly breaths.
Four Guidelines For A Walking Meditation:
“Walking meditation is meditation while walking” Thich Nhat Hanh
1: Gentle Belly Breathing:
For your body to fully participate in a walking meditation you need to be aware of your breath. Use a gentle belly breath to calm your thoughts, relax your body, hips, elbows, muscles, legs, face, eyes and ears. Place your hands on your belly to feel it rise and fall (optional).
Breath in “resting” Breath out “softening”.
Walk with soft eyes, slowly and gently. Feel the sensation of each foot as it presses down onto the earth. Notice your foot as it lifts up, touches the ground and is lifted up again. Follow the movement of every foot step with your mind and breath.
To keep your mind focused on each step and each breath Thich Nhat Hanh suggests counting your number of steps to each inhale and each exhale. It helps prevent your mind from getting distracted with other thoughts.
1 inhale for 3 steps, 1 exhale for 3 steps. This is only a guideline and it will be different for everyone. You might be 2 steps for an inhale and 4 for an exhale.
My inhales and exhales were not equal at first. I kept repeating “resting” on the inhale and “softening” on the exhale until my mind and body relaxed more and I was able to balance my breathing rhythm.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a lover of smiles and half smiles (turn up the corners of your lips). It is said a smile brings lightness to your feet, invites your body to relax and helps you settle more easily into the walking meditation. Not a bad secret ingredient I thought.
“Don’t bring anxiety and stress to the ground with your feet” Thich Nhat Hanh