Special Topics

Being Mindful of Where We Are: The Practice of Walking Meditation in Daily Life

When using the method of walking meditation, we neither intentionally speed up nor slow down. Instead, we walk at the same speed as we normally would, while trying to be aware of the movements without harboring wandering thoughts and ideas.
As we are walking, we effortlessly lift and lower our feet, irrespective of the distance travelled. Throughout the process, we keep our steps of equal length and speed. There is no need to think about the distance or duration of the walk. Instead, we focus on each and every step with clear awareness.
Walking in this way may seem effortless and, therefore, boring. However, because the same simple movements repeat continuously, we can easily calm our minds when paying attention only to the steps. And, however far the journey is, we can walk peacefully without any burdens whatsoever.
If we have to speed up-- when hurrying to work or appointments, for example-- we can accelerate while still keeping the mind calm. When we catch ourselves only caring about reaching our destination quickly, we should let go of this idea and calm the mind by returning back to the steps. In this way, we can calm the impatient mind. Even in this situation, focusing on the fast movements becomes a good way to calm the mind.
In addition, we can practice slow walking meditation at home. Before practicing slow walking, we need to check whether our bodies and minds are relaxed. Starting slow-walking meditation abruptly will make it more difficult to harmonize our bodies and minds and thus calm down. For instance, suppose we are doing housework or studying and decide to practice slow walking meditation next. In this case, we can gradually ease into practice with a natural pace after ending a period of work.

When practicing walking meditation in daily life, it is better to walk in a uniform environment. If we start walking on flat surface, then climb stairs, and, finally, take the elevator, focusing on the movements would become challenging.

Knowing how to settle our minds by being aware and mindful of our steps, while taking to the heart that, "the mind is always where the body is", we can practice meditation in all of our daily actions.

Resource: Issue 323 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Text: Venerable Guo Yuan (果元法師)
Translation: Hsiao Chen-an
Editing: DDM Editorial Team

Extended Reading:
Enjoy One Step at a Time

Practice Walking Meditation to Experience Chan in Motion