WHAT ARE THE EXERCISES OF WALKING MEDITATION ?INNER YOGA-43
WALKING MEDITATION ;--
1-Walking meditation is more than a simple stroll in the park. It is usually done much slower than normal walks, and involves either coordination with the breathing, or specific focusing practices. It looks more like meditation than like walking.
2-Unlike seated meditation, when walking your eyes are open, body is standing and moving, and there is a bit more interaction with the outside world. Because the body is moving, it is easier to be mindful of the body sensations and anchored in the present moment; for this reason, many people find walking meditation easier than seated meditation.
Here are some things to keep in mind, regardless of the “type” of walking meditation you choose.
It may feel a bit awkward in the beginning, so you might consider doing walking meditation first in your backyard. If you are walking outside, find a secluded place where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. Ideally, the walking path should be slightly enclosed, so there is less distraction from the scenery, and the mind can more easily go inwards.
B-Stay away from high-traffic and heavily populated walking areas. It’s also important that you feel safe in your surroundings.
Ideally practice for at least 15 minutes. Since there is no discomfort of seated practice or of not moving, you can naturally do it for longer periods than seated meditation.
Slow is better. Pace should be steady and even. If your mind is agitated, or your ability to focus is weak, walk very slowly, until you can stay in the present moment with each step.
Before you start your walking session, spend a minute or two just standing there, breathing deeply and anchoring your attention in your body.
Stand with your feet hip-width apart and balance your weight evenly on both feet. Take the time to feel the stability of the ground beneath you.
Take a few deep breaths.Close your eyes and do a scan of your whole body, starting at your feet. Make note of any sensations, thoughts or feelings and take the time to explore the sensations fully.
Bring your awareness to your body, noticing how your body feels as you are standing, and becoming aware of all the sensations going on in your body.
Just as in seated meditation, whenever your mind starts to engage with thoughts (or any type of mental content), bring your attention back to your walking and your breathing.
We are not going anywhere. There is nothing to achieve, except mastering our attention and presence. Simply be with the process.
Choose one of the six techniques explained here. If you don’t know which to try, read my recommendation at the end of this article.
STRAIGHT WALK WITH ''OM'' MANTRA;-
1-Many Yogis walk for long hours as a way of developing concentrations – sometimes as much as ten or fifteen hours a day.Of all walking meditations , this is the one with the most elaborate mental aspect of the training.
2-We stress walking back and forth on a single path instead of wandering about because otherwise part of the mind would have to negotiate the path. A certain mental effort is required to, say, avoid a chair or step over a rock. When you walk back and forth, pretty soon you know the route and the problem-solving part of the mind can be put to rest.
3-Walking in a circle is a technique that is sometimes used, but the disadvantage is that the continuity of a circle can conceal a wandering mind. Walking back and forth, the little interruption when you stop at the end of your path can help to catch your attention if it has wandered.
A-For this type of walking meditation, choose a straight path of about 30 to 40 feet long.You can practice barefoot, or wearing light shoes.While doing walking meditation you need to activate the mind using a mantra, rather than calm it, so that it becomes more focused and awake.
B-The use of a mantra like 'OM' repeating it quietly to yourself over and over and over again. Increase the speed of repetition if the mind insists on wandering..We can take example of GOVERDHAN parikrama,where all the devouts are with their japmalas.
1-Stand upright, with eyes cast down about a meter and a half in front (to prevent distraction), not looking at anything in particular. Some people find it useful to keep the eyelids half closed.
2-As you walk, place all your attention at the soles of the feet, on the sensations and feelings as they arise and pass away.
3-Feel the legs and feet tense as you lift the leg. Feel the movement of the leg as it swings through the air. Note the sensations felt.
4-As the foot comes down again into contact with the path, a new feeling arises. Place your awareness on that sensation, as it is felt through the sole of the foot.
Again as the foot lifts, mentally note the feeling as it arises.
5-At each new step, certain new feelings are experienced and old feelings cease – feeling arising, feeling passing away, feeling arising, feeling passing away. This should be known with mindfulness. Be constantly mindful of all sensations that arise in the sole of the feet.
6-There is no “right” experience. Just see how the experience feels to you.
Walk back and forth along the same short path. When you come to the end of your path, come to a full stop, turn around, stop again, and then start again.
7-In the beginning, middle and end of the path, ask “Where is my mind? Is it on the soles of the feet?”, and thus reestablish mindfulness. Whenever your mind wanders from this focus, you bring it back to your foot, and the sensations for the contact with the ground.
8-Your speed might change during a period of walking meditation. See if you can sense the pace that keeps you most intimate with and attentive to the physical experience of walking.
9-At any time if you feel the mind is going deeply into tranquility, and you feel like just standing still, or sitting down to practice, then do so.
10-Try to dedicate your attention to the sensations of walking and let go of everything else. As you develop your ability of focus while walking like this, by time you can also integrate it in less formal walks in your daily life.
11-Eventually you will notice all six of the components of walking – raising, lifting, pushing, dropping, touching, and pressing. To help keep the mind in the process, you may also mentally note what is happening (“lifting”, “moving”, “placing”, etc.).
Or you can use labels such as “stepping, stepping” or “left, right”. If after a while you notice that you are saying “right” for the left foot, and vice-versa, you know that your attention has wandered.
12- Instead of focusing on the soles of your feet, you can do loving-kindness meditation while you walk. In each step, focus on the feelings of loving-kindness, and think “May all beings be happy, may all beings be at peace, may all beings be free from all suffering“. And also “May I be happy, may I be at peace, may I be free from all suffering”.
1-If powerful emotions or thoughts arise and call your attention away from the sensations of walking, it is often helpful to stop walking and attend to them. When they are no longer compelling, you can return to the walking meditation.
2-You also might find that something beautiful or interesting catches your eye while walking. If you can’t let go of it, stop walking and do looking meditation. Continue walking when you have finished looking. You can also simply note, seeing, hearing, worrying.
CLOCKWISE WALK WITH HAMSA-SOHAM MANTRA;-
Practitioners walk clockwise around a room, in a very specific posture.
1-Stand up straight with your back upright but not stiff.
Feel your feet touching the ground and let your weight distribute evenly.
2-Curl the thumb of your left hand in and wrap your fingers around it. Place it just above your belly button. Wrap your right hand around it, resting your right thumb in the crevice formed between your left thumb and index finger.
3-Keep your eyes cast down about five or six feet in front, un-focused.
With each complete breath (exhalation and inhalation), take a small step,say mentally-''HAMSA'' beginning with the right foot &say mentally-''SOHAM ''with the left foot.
4-Keep the body and mind walking and breathing in a well-balanced, concentrated way. Keep your focus on your breathing and stepping.This is the walking meditation with the slowest pace.
WALK WITH “SHIVOHAM ”
1-When we practice walking meditation, we arrive in each moment. Our true home is in the present moment. When we enter the present moment deeply, our regrets and sorrows disappear, and we discover life with all its wonders.
2-Breathing in, we say to ourselves, I have arrived. Breathing out, we say, I am home. When we do this we overcome dispersion and dwell peacefully in the present moment, which is the only moment for us to be alive.Different from other techniques, this one makes use of affirmations in order to produce positive mental states.
1-Walk slowly, with calmness and comfort
2-Be aware of each move, of each step. Keep bringing your attention to the present moment.
3-Mentally repeat one of these verses, as you walk;-
Breathing in “NITYOHAM ”; Breathing out “SHUDDHOHAM ”
Breathing in “BUDDHOHAM ”; Breathing out “MUKKTOHAM In the now”
Breathing in “SHIVOHAM ”; Breathing out “SHIVA SWAROOPOHAM ”
Breathing in “ADVAITA ANANDA ”; Breathing out “RUPAM ARUPAM ”
Breathing in “CHIDOHAM ”; Breathing out “ SATCHIDANANDOHAM ”
NOTE;-Enjoy every step you take. Kiss the earth with your feet, imprinting gratitude and love as you walk.You can learn more about the approach and philosophy of ADI-SHANKARA as given below;--
Shivoham Shivoham Shiva Swaroopoham
Nityoham Shuddhoham Buddhoham Muktoham Shivoham Shivoham Shiva Swaroopoham
Advaitamananda Roopam Aroopam Brahmoham Brahmoham Brahma Swaroopoham
Chidoham Chidoham Satchidanandoham
DESCRIPTION OF VERSE ;-
MEANING OF SHIVOHAM--
“Shivoham” means “I am Shiva”. Shiva is the pure unbounded all-pervading consciousness
(the transcendental self, the Absolute). Here is an explanation of “Shivoham” bhajan.
”Shiva” here means that innocent, blissful, splendid, golden, beautiful.
“Shivoham” — I am Shiva. Splendid, the most innocent.
MEANING OF SHIVA SWAROOPOHAM---
“Shiva Swarupoham” — my nature is Shiva. My form is Shiva. I am made up of a substance that is Shiva — innermost me.
MEANING OF NITYOHAM---
“Nityoham” — I am ever present. I am always there. Body dies, disappears, but I am there.
MEANING OF SHUDDHOHAM--
“Nityoham Shuddhoham” — I am ever pure. Nothing can touch me. All these things come and go, but they cannot touch me, they cannot do anything to me.
MEANING OF BUDDHOHAM--
“Buddhoham” — I am always enlightened.
“Shivoham Shivoham Shiva Swarupoham. Nityoham” — I am eternal. There is no end to me.
“ADVAITA ANANDA RUPAM ARUPAM .
SHIVOHAM SHIVOHAM SHIVA SWAROOPOHAM ” —
There is no two. It is me in all the forms, all over. It is me. My breath is flowing everywhere. I am the formless though I am inside a form. My spirit has no form. Though I am formless, I move in forms, in all forms in the whole world. the Brahman, the totality, the all.
“CHIDOHAM CHIDOHAM SATCHIDANANDOHAM ” ;—
I am the consciousness. I am lively. I am full of life. I am pure energy and pure consciousness.I am all pervasive, and without any form, pervade all senses and world. I have neither attachment to the world, nor to the liberation (mukti). I am "Shiva” (SatChitAnanda) beyond all these).”
(ATMASTAKAM – THE CHANT OF SHIVA.... BY GURU ADI-SHANKARA)
''OM'' MINDFULNESS WALKING MEDITATION;--
1-This is an adaptation of traditional walking meditation by the modern mindfulness movement. Instead of being a practice of concentration (focused attention) – it is more of an open monitoring practice. In other words, the attention is not laser focused on the soles of the feet; instead, it is present to the variety of sensations and perceptions of the present moment.
2-Here are some pointers:-With OM' japa (mentally) ;Pay attention to the experience of walking, and keep your awareness engaged in this experience.Feel your feet touching the ground. The movement of your muscles.The constant balancing and rebalancing of the body.
3-Pay attention to any areas of stiffness or pain in the body, and consciously relax them.
4-Be also aware of your location in space. The sounds around you. The air temperature.
5-Be aware of the beginning, the middle, and the end of your stepping.Allow your awareness to move up through every part of the body, noticing the sensations as you walk.
6-Gradually scan all parts of your body as you bring your attention to the ankles, skins, calves, knees, thighs, hips, pelvis, back, chest, shoulders, arms, neck, and head.
7-Become aware of your present mental and emotional states. Notice your state of mind. Is it calm or busy, cloudy or focused? Where is your mind?You can read more about it here.
NOTE;- This exercise is similar to Nyas of Tantra.. EXERCISE FIVE;-
WALKING WITH VICTORIOUS BREATH MEDITATION(03 EXERCISES)
1-The idea of this exercise is to coordinate different types of pranayama (breathing regulation) with the stepping. This is often more challenging, from a breathing point of view, than other types of walking meditation.
2-Unlike other practices, in which we simply observe the breath, in pranayama we actively guide the breath.Pranayama is a huge topic and there are many powerful practices. It may require some previous training in these breathing exercises in seated position for you to be able to do it comfortably.
3-Before starting any of the following exercises, take some time to really calm the breathing. Breathe with the suggested pattern for a few times, just standing, before you start with the steps.
4-WHAT IS THE TECHNIQUE OF UJJAYI ?
A-Close the mouth. Inhale slowly through both the nostrils in a smooth, uniform manner till the breath fills the space from the throat to the heart.
B-Retain the breath as long as you can do it comfortably and then exhale slowly through the left nostril by closing the right nostril with your right thumb.
C- Expand the chest when you inhale. During inhalation a peculiar sound is produced owing to the partial closing of glottis.
5-EXERCISE 01(Breathing 4-4-4-4)
In both cases, every step is one second..In this exercise there is inhalation, retention and exhalation, all the same length.
Inhale for 4 steps
Retain the breath for 4 steps
Exhale slowly for 4 steps
Retain empty for 4 steps
NOTE;-You may increase or decrease the number of steps for each phase, according to your capacity. For instance, it could be 3-3-3-3 or 6-6-6-6.
6-EXERCISE 02 (Breathing 1:4:2)
Here, the rhythm for inhalation-retention-exhalation is 1:4:2, which is more challenging.
You can start with 2-8-4 or 3-12-6, and increase by time.4-Inhale for 3 steps
Retain the breath for 12 steps
Exhale slowly for 6 steps
7-EXERCISE 03 (Mantra)It is a silent walk, and of course, you have to be a walking meditator to be able to mentally chant your mantra, but chanting was one of the ingredients for a real meditative experience. Here you synchronize the mental repetition of a mantra with your steps. Keep your pace and your breathing steady, and repeate your mantra with each step (if it’s a short one); or break it into a few steps (for longer mantras).
EXERCISE SIX;- WALKING WITH EYES UNFOCUSED;-
1-A particularly intransigent problem in the practice of Yoga is that of retention of power; the fleeting contact that one gains with the Higher Power during meditation seems to dissipate within a few minutes after meditation, after which one finds oneself uncomfortably thrust back into the ugly daily persona – an amalgam of anxiety, impatience, ambition and what not.
2-The way out of this dilemma is to embrace a daily regimen of control over conversation, food, television and computer usage and other activities which “externalize” the consciousness. The exercise discussed here “walking with eyes unfocused” can also extend the retention of consciousness.
3-When we are busy with various daytime activities, we are seldom aware that our consciousness is perpetually recording even the tiniest upheavals (a violent or sudden change) occurring within our mind and heart. These upheavals invariably(always)
sink into our subconscious, gradually gain strength to become habit formations and also rise up later at night in the form of incoherent (confused) dreams.
4-While this recording cannot be prevented, its ill-effects can be mitigated by the practice of walking meditation, which calms the volatile (uneasy) waking consciousness by temporarily inhibiting the churning in the mind and the heart. One can potentially experience a peace and calm descending and saturating (charge fully) the mind, heart and the rest of the frontal being
5-Walk alone for long stretches while allowing the eyes to lazily scan the horizon (the line at which the earth's surface and the sky appear to meet).. Without focusing on anything in particular, one’s vision should take in all the objects (people, buildings, trees) which appear within sight without getting distracted by any of them.
6-There should be no conversation within oneself or with another person. Chant a Mantra if required to improve the effect.
THE KEY POINTS (07 POINTS);-
1-Walking is a healthy physical activity, and one that is also used in different spiritual traditions as a means of training the mind.
2-Find a flat terrain /ground path outdoors where it’s not important to pay attention to the surroundings. It should be safe, secluded, quiet, still, and as empty as possible – so there is little distraction. An indoor walking path will also work.
3-Find a circular or very long straight path to minimize the need to consciously change direction.
4-The first few times around the path, look at everything to acclimate to the surroundings; then ignore everything.
5-Wear comfortable shoes and clothing; carry whatever is needed to minimize self-consciousness, as long as it is lightweight.
6-Walk at a leisurely pace, ignoring the surroundings as much as possible. Moderate the pace of the walk, so that the walking can be forgotten. Flash attention in and out of the meditative state to make any course adjustments on the walk, as needed.
7-So, which way should you practice? If you are already practicing inside a certain tradition, then following the walking meditation of that path makes sense. If not, you can explore them all and see what fits your needs better.As a generalization, we can say that the Mindfulness and walking meditations are the simplest to start.Apart from the techniques explained, there are other ways in which walking was used as a spiritual practice;So select one....SHIVOHAM.......