Walking Meditation

There are many people who find it extremely difficult to sit in silent meditation. For them, it may seem as if the "art of meditation" is something that is lost to them. I felt this way for a long time, because I am an impatient person by nature, and sitting in silent meditation was not a thing I tolerated well. Then someone introduced me to Walking Meditation, and everything changed for me around the idea of "meditation." Suddenly, it was something I could do.

The first thing that happened when I learned about Walking Meditation is that my whole idea about what meditation IS completely vanished, to be replaced by a much more clear and concise picture of what was going on. For me, meditation always meant "clearing the mind of everything," leaving the space for "the emptiness" to appear, so that I could move in consciousness into "the nothingness that is The All...", or something like that.

What I was supposed to be trying to do, I thought, was "empty my mind." I was supposed to try to sit in one place, close my eyes, and "think of nothing." This made me crazy, because my mind never turns off! It is always thinking, thinking, thinking of something. So I was never very good at sitting with my legs crossed, closing my eyes, and concentrating on The Nothing. Frustrated, I hardly ever meditated-and envied those who said they did (although I secretly wondered whether they really did, or simply went through the motions, doing no better than I was able to do).

Then a master teacher in my life told me that I had entirely the wrong idea of what meditation was about. Meditation, she said, was not about emptiness, it was about focus. Instead of trying to sit still and think about nothing, she suggested that I do a "walking meditation," and move about, stopping to focus on specific things that my eyes would light upon.

"Consider a blade of grass," she would say. "Consider it. Look at it closely. Regard it intently. Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like? What are its specific characteristics? What does it feel like? What is its fragrance? What is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely. What does it tell you about Life?"

Then, she said, "Experience the grass in its Completeness. Take off your shoes and socks and walk on the grass in your bare feet. Think of nothing else but your feet. Focus your attention on the bottom of your feet and consider immensely exactly what you are feeling there. Tell your mind to feel nothing else, just for that moment. Ignore all other incoming data except the data coming from the bottom of your feet. Close your eyes, if this helps.

"Walk slowly and deliberately, allowing each slow and gentle step to tell you about the grass. Then open your eyes and look at all of the grass around you. Ignore all other incoming data except the data about the grass, coming from your eyes and feet.

"Now focus on your sense of smell, and see if you can smell the grass. Ignore all other incoming data except the data about the grass coming from your nose, your eyes, and your feet. See if you can focus your attention in this way. If you can, you will experience the grass as you may never have experienced it before. You will know more about grass than you ever knew before, at a deeper level. You will never experience it in the same way again. You will realize that you have been ignoring the grass your whole life."

Then, my master teacher said, do the same thing with a flower. "Consider it. Look at it closely. Regard it intently. Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like? What are its specific characteristics? What does it feel like? What is its fragrance? What is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely. What does it tell you about Life?"

Then, she said, "Experience the flower in its Completeness. Bring it to your nose and smell it once more. Think of nothing else but your nose. Focus your attention on your nose and consider immensely exactly what you are experiencing there. Tell your mind to experience nothing else, just for that moment. Ignore all other incoming data except the data coming from your nose. Close your eyes, if this helps.

"Now focus on your sense of touch, and touch the flower carefully. Touch the flower at the same time as you smell the flower. Ignore all other incoming data except the data about the flower coming from your fingertips and your nose. Now, open your eyes and look closely at the flower. See if you can still smell the flower, now that it is far enough away for you to look at it and touch it. See if you can focus your attention in this way. If you can, you will experience the flower as you may never have experienced it before. You will know more about the flower than you ever knew before, at a deeper level. You will never experience it in the same way again. You will realize that you have been ignoring the flowers your whole life."

Then, she said, do the same thing with a tree. Walk over to a tree and consider it. "Look at it closely. Regard it intently. Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like? What are its specific characteristics? What does it feel like? What is its fragrance? What is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely. What does it tell you about Life?"

And she said, "Experience the tree in its Completeness. Place you hands upon it and feel it totally. Think of nothing else but your hands. Focus your attention on your hands and consider immensely exactly what you are experiencing there. Tell your mind to experience nothing else, just for that moment. Ignore all other incoming data except the data coming from your hands. Close your eyes, if this helps.

"Now focus on your sense of smell, and smell the tree. Continue touching the tree at the same time as you smell the tree. Ignore all other incoming data except the data about the tree coming from your fingertips and your nose. Now, open your eyes and look closely at the tree. Look up at it, and see if you can climb in consciousness to its top. See if you can still smell the tree, now that it is far enough away for you to look at it. Keep touching it. See if you can focus your attention in this way. If you can, you will experience the tree as you may never have experienced it before. You will know more about the tree than you ever knew before, at a deeper level. You will never experience it in the same way again. You will realize that you have been ignoring the treesyour whole life."

"Now, step away from the tree and lose all physical contact with it. See if you can bring to your mind the experience of the tree as you stand and look at it from father away. Experience it completely. Do not be surprised if you can smell the tree, even from a distance. Do not be surprised if you can, in a sense, even `feel' the tree from where you are. What has happened is that you have opened yourself to the vibration of the tree. You are `catching the vibe.' See how far back you can step from the tree and still retain `contact.' When you lose touch with the experience of the tree, move closer in, move back to it. See if this helps you regain contact.

"This exercise will help you develop your ability to focus your attention on whatever you want to experience at a heightened level."

"Now, walk. Walk wherever you live. In the country, in the city, it does not matter. Walk slowly, but deliberately. And look around you. Let your eyes fall where they may. As your eyes find something, focus the fullness of your attention upon it. It can be anything. A garbage truck. A stop sign. A crack in the sidewalk, a pebble by the road. Look at it closely, right from where you are. Regard it intently. Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like? What are its specific characteristics? What does it feel like, from where you are? What is its fragrance? Can you sense that from where you are? What is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely. What does it tell you about Life?"

"Continue your walk. Pick out three things on your walk to consider in this way. This walk should take you at least a half hour. You cannot consider three things fully in less time, at first. Later, you will be able to consider something fully in just a moment, in a nonno-second. But now, you are just practicing.

"This is Walking Meditation, and what you are doing is training your mind to stop ignoring everything you are experiencing. You are training your mind to focus on a particular aspect of your experience, so that you may experience it completely."

Practice Walking Meditation in this way for three weeks, my master teacher told me, and "you will never experience life the same way again." Then, take the final step in Walking Meditation. Walk outside-or inside, for that matter. You can actually walk anywhere. From the bedroom to the kitchen will do. There is plenty to see, plenty to touch, plenty to experience. You can spend three hours with the carpet alone-and "this time do not pick out any particular part of what you are seeing or encountering. Try to encounter all of it. Seek to embrace all of it. Attempt to focus on all of it at the same time.

"Take in the Big Picture. Close your eyes at first, if this helps. Smell what you are smelling, hear what you are hearing, feel whatever you are `feeling' of the space around you. Then open your eyes and add sight. See everything you are seeing, and nothing in particular. See All Of It. Smell All Of It. Feel All Of It. If this begins to overwhelm you, refocus on a Part Of It, so that you do not lose your psychic balance.

"With enough practice, you will soon be able to walk into any space or place and begin to experience All Of It at some level. You have heightened your Awareness. You are raised your consciousness. You have expanded your ability to be Present, fully, in the Moment.

"Now, do this with your eyes closed and while you are sitting down, and you have Silent Mediation. Boom. It is as simple as that."

(Next week I will tell you about Stopping Meditation. Until then, Walk Well.)

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Comments

Bob 31st July 2010 10:58 am

This is a great post! More people really need to be told this.

I went through the same sort of thing, trying to meditate in the traditional manner for many years, and never quite got it. Because of that frustration I would often not try for months at a time. Then I was introduced to the idea that you did not have to sit za-zen to meditate! Anything that allows you to calm your mind and make that connection will work, and you can create your own best way.

For me, walking outside and contemplating the natural surroundings of the Earth Mother is a wonderful way to meditate. I will stop to contemplate the micro world, and suddenly that feeling of connection and expansion is there!

Wonderful information! I hope many people read it!

kay 31st July 2010 11:09 am

Excellent look at meditation. Thank you.

k 31st July 2010 5:18 pm

The other evening my Danes and I went to a place where there is a large pond at the end of a stone road through the forest. The dogs love to explore with their noses. My 9 week old stayed with me, stepped in the pond and then started playing along the steep edge, he is still very clumsey and fell over onto his back into the pond, I thought I was going to have to go after him, but he quickly got his feet under him and came out wet from nose to tail. He was so funny trying to shake off the water. Then I noticed across the pond a herd of about 12 elk, the sun setting the meadow larks calling and the storm clouds drifting away creating a beautiful sun set. So, many people are afraid to get dirty, they want their designer cloths and the image of high society, but to really feel nature you have to be willing to get dirty, becasue we are and the earth is made of dirt. Walk in the mud with your shoes off and feel the mud between your toes then like my dogs come back to home and expect a warm bath.

Jabulile 1st August 2010 2:08 am

Very nice. Will give this a try.

MaryO 1st August 2010 3:22 am

Thank you. I will definitely try this.
Mary

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Neale Donald Walsch

Neale Donald Walsch is a modern day spiritual messenger whose words continue to touch the world in profound ways. With an early interest in religion and a deeply felt connection to spirituality, Neale spent the majority of his life thriving professionally, yet searching for spiritual meaning before beginning his now famous conversation with God.

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