Walking meditation is very much like sitting meditation, with the exception that we now we also move our bodies. In walking meditation we pay full attention to our breathing and to the feet touching the floor. When we are indoors, we practice slow walking meditation, so we take small steps, and coordinate one step for each in or out breath. Breathing in, I step on my left foot, breathing out I step on my right foot. We enjoy our breathing and our walking.
Outdoors, it is unnatural to walk so slowly, so we might take two or three steps with our in-breath, and 2-3 steps with our out-breath. We can take as many steps as we like with each breath, and we do not need to make them always the same (for example, walking up a hill may mean fewer steps per breath, and if your out-breath is much longer than your in-breath you may take 3 steps inhaling but 4 while exhaling).
As with sitting meditation, the purpose of walking meditation is to enjoy it and to calm the body and the mind. Throughout the day we walk all the time. We walk to the bathroom, we walk from the kitchen to the living room, we walk from the car to the supermarket, etc. etc. Every time we walk we have an opportunity to enjoy walking meditation and to touch life deeply.
We walk simply to walk. Of course we might be going somewhere, but until we get there, why do we need to worry about what is not yet here? We can fully enjoy our walking and deal with what is at the end of the path when we get there. To remind ourselves of that we can use the following gatha before we start walking:
I walk with my feet,
not with my head,
If I walk with my head, I loose my way.
This reminds us to walk and not get lost in thoughts.
As we do during sitting meditation, we can use a Gatha as we walk, coordination the Gatha words with our in and out breath. A very nice Gathat to use is:
I have arrived
I am home
In the here
And in the now
I am solid
I am free
In the ultimate
You can say to yourself “arrived” on each step, until you feel you have really arrived. Then “home” on each step until you feel fully at home. Moving to the next idea until it fully takes root in you. This is not an “auto-suggestion,” it is a practice, a statement. Make it very real. Really arrive. Feel really at home.
In a meditation hall we do slow walking meditation between sittings, with one step for the in breath and one step for the out breath. Outdoors, we might take a few steps for each breath so that we do not look too conspicuous and slow. It is not the speed that makes walking meditation a meditation (we can also do jogging meditation), but rather our awareness and the calming of the mind.