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How to do Walking Meditation
Ven. Yuttadhammo made a video introduction series to meditation practice called How To Meditate There is also an introduction to Walking Meditation. I would advice watching all 6 videos since they are connected and based on a gradual practice.
The video series is based on his booklet from which I have here quoted the walking meditation instructions:
"... The method of walking meditation is as follows:
1. The feet should be close together, almost touching, and should stay side-by-side throughout the meditation, neither one in front of the other, nor with great space between their paths.
2. The hands should be clasped, right holding left, either in front or behind the body.
3. The eyes should be open throughout the meditation and one's gaze should be fixed on the path ahead about two metres or six feet in front of the body.
4. One should walk in a straight line, somewhere between three to five metres or ten to fifteen feet in length.
5. One begins by moving the right foot forward one foot length, with the foot parallel to the ground. The entire foot should touch the ground at the same time, with back of the heel in line with and to the right of the toes of the left foot.
6. The movement of each foot should be fluid and natural, a single arcing motion from beginning to end, with no breaks or abrupt change in direction of any kind.
7. One then moves the left foot forward, passing the right foot to come down with the back of the heel in line with and to the left of the toes of the right foot, and so on, one foot length for each step.
8. As one moves each foot, one should make a mental note just as in the sitting meditation, using a mantra that captures the essence of the movement as it occurs. The word in this case is "stepping right” when moving the right foot, and “stepping left" when moving the left foot.
9. One should make the mental note at the exact moment of each movement, neither before or after the movement.
If the mental note, "stepping right", is made before the foot moves, one is noting something that has not yet occurred. If one moves the foot first and then notes, "stepping right", one is noting something in the past. Either way, this cannot be considered meditation, as there is no awareness of reality in either case.
To clearly observe the movements as they occur, one should note “step-” at the beginning of the movement, just as the foot leaves the floor, “-ping” as the foot moves forward; and “right” at the moment when the foot touches the floor again. The same method should be employed when moving the left foot, and one's awareness should move between the movements of each foot from one end of the path to the other.
Upon reach the end of the walking path, turn around and walk in the other direction. The method of turning while maintaining clear awareness is to first stop, bringing whichever foot is behind to stand next to the foot that is in front, saying to oneself, "stopping, stopping, stopping", as the foot moves. Once one is standing still, one should become aware of the standing position as, "standing, standing, standing”, then begin to turn around, as follows:
1. Lift the right foot completely off the floor and turn it 90° to place it again on the floor, noting once, "turning". It is important to extend the word to cover the whole of the movement, so the “turn-” should be at the beginning of the movement and the “-ing” should be at the end, as the foot touches the floor.
2. Lift the left foot off the floor and turn it 90° to stand by the right foot, noting just the same, "turning".
3. Repeat the movements of both feet one more time "turning" (right foot), "turning" (left foot), and then note, "standing, standing, standing".
4. Continue with the walking meditation in the opposite direction, noting, "stepping right", "stepping left", as before.
During walking meditation, if thoughts, feelings, or emotions arise, one can chose to ignore them, bringing the mind back to the feet in order to maintain focus and continuity. If, however, they become a distraction, one should stop moving, bringing the back foot forward tostand with the front foot, saying to oneself, "stopping, stopping, stopping," then “standing, standing, standing,” and begin to contemplate the distraction as in sitting meditation, "thinking, thinking, thinking", "pain, pain, pain", "angry", "sad", "bored", "happy", etc., according to the experience. Once the object of attention disappears, continue with the walking as before, "stepping right", "stepping left”.
In this way, one simply paces back and forth, walking in one direction until reaching the end of the designated path, then turning around and walking in the other direction.
Generally speaking, one should try to balance the amount of time spent in walking meditation with the amount spent in sitting meditation, to avoid partiality to one or the other posture. If one were to practice ten minutes of walking meditation, for example, one should follow it with ten minutes of sitting meditation. This concludes the explanation of how to practice walking meditation.
Again, I urge you not to be content with simply reading this book; please, try the meditation techniques for yourself and see thebenefits they bring for yourself. Thank you for your interest in the meditation practice and again I wish you peace, happiness, and freedom from suffering ..."
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