One of the most common ways to bring meditation into the body is through walking meditation. Many traditions use this practice and engage it in slightly different ways. You will often find Zen monks walking in slowly moving circles or Burmese monks doing some internal labeling of the movements themselves.
Walking meditation is a chance to increase awareness within the body and also to break up extended periods of sitting with some much needed movement. Similar to how you learned Working with the Body last week, this week will be about incorporating movement into your regular practice.
Lifting ... Moving ... Dropping ... Placing
This meditation practice can be done on a forest path, in your living room, a longer hallway, the track at the gym, or any other place where you will be able to walk at a slower pace without getting in the way or taken out by a speeding bicyclist. Select a place where you will be able to focus on what you are doing in your body in addition to the surroundings.
The focus of this meditation is to really bring awareness into your body and also to be aware of where you are in the physical space. As you are walking, really feel the connection with your foot to the ground. Be aware of how you are moving. What are the different parts of your body actually doing as you move? Bring your focus into the physicality of each action your body performs to create this movement.
Some traditions really focus on the movement of the feet. They teach bringing your awareness to the soles of your feet as they do the heel to toe roll as they come into contact with the ground. You may also find it helpful to label the movements of your feet: Lifting, moving, dropping, placing, lifting, moving, dropping, placing, .... You will find what works best for you the more you do this practice.
Maintain a meditative state during the walking. Label any thoughts, "Thinking Thinking" and let them go like you learned in Week 3. You are simply engaging your body during meditation. Be aware of your surroundings, the noises, the temperature, the light, and just bring your attention to the present moment.
Adding This Into Your Practice
Add this practice into your regular sitting time as you are able. It's a chance to explore bringing your focus into your body in a conscious way and can be a great way to center yourself in the present moment. If you haven't already read the two posts this one builds onto, please read Week 3 and Week 4 to gain a better understanding of the underlying practice as we've covered it so far.
Next week, we begin addressing how to work with your emotions before moving onto working with your thoughts and the mind.
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Daily skill practices and further information to help you grow in your meditation practice or increase your emotional intelligence skills.
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