Daily Practice #1: Mindful Walking
Extracted from Mindful.org
Walking meditation can be a formal practice, like watching the breath. Or it can be informal, bringing awareness to this everyday activity, whenever you need to travel from point A to point B.
Walking meditation gives us an opportunity to gather our awareness which so often becomes distracted or even stuck when the mind is left to its own devices.
Whether moving between floors of a building, on a city street, or in the woods, it is an opportunity to guide ourselves out of the distracted autopilot we live in throughout so much of our day. Paying attention in this way, we stay safe by remaining fully aware of whatever is around. On any walk, hike, run, or other physical activity, without effort we may mentally check out—or we can practice awareness instead.
1. Natural Pace:
As you begin, walk at a natural pace. Place your hands wherever comfortable: on your belly, behind your back, or at your sides.
2. Attention to Sounds:
Now for a few minutes, expand your attention to sounds. Whether you’re indoors, in the woods, or in a city, pay attention to sounds without labeling or naming, or getting caught up in whether you find them pleasant or unpleasant. Notice sounds as nothing more or less than sound.
3. Attention to Smell:
Shift your awareness to your sense of smell. Again, simply notice. Don’t push or force yourself to feel anything at all, just bring attention to the sense of smell, whatever you discover.
4. Attention to Vision:
Now, move to vision: colors and objects and whatever else you see. Patiently coming back each time something grabs your attention, or even if something needs addressing, like avoiding an obstacle. Staying natural, not overly rigid, not daydreaming and drifting, but with sustained awareness.
5. Maintain Open Awareness:
Keep this open awareness of everything around you, wherever you are. Nothing to do, nothing to fix, nothing to change. Fully aware, and walking.
6. Awareness of Physical Sensations of Walking:
In the last moments, come back to awareness of the physical sensations of walking. Wherever else your mind found itself throughout the practice, notice your feet again touching the ground. Notice again the movements in your body with each step.
7. Count 1-10 and Back:
If you find it useful, you can count steps up to 10, and then start back at one again. If you’re in a small space, as you reach ten, pause, and with intention, choose a moment to turn around.
8. Ending with a Pause:
When you’re ready to end your walking meditation, stand still for a moment again. Pausing, choose a moment to end the practice. As you finish, consider how you might bring this kind of awareness into the rest of your day.