L I F E S T Y L E  ии  M E D I T A T I O N

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Buddha Mind - get one, be one.








Walking meditation has many facets; it can be considered simply as an alternative posture. Unless you are very lucky, sitting for more than an hour or so is quite physically difficult - there is a need to unravel the bones and muscles. Yoga and tai chi are good for this but walking is an easily developed technique which can maintain the direct thread of one's meditation. If you can give the time, extended periods of formal meditation are usually very fruitful and when you do change posture it is good to reflect on how the mind shifts with that change. There is a tendency to divide meditation into sitting and, 'all the rest.' The encouragement is to maintain mindfulness in all four postures; sitting, standing, walking and lying down. This does take quite some practice and the use of structured exercises is very supportive in establishing a strong internal sense of just what mindfulness is.

As with any meditation technique it is important to set up boundaries. The overall idea being to determine an object of meditation for a determined amount of time. With breath meditation one might say: 'Now I determine to watch the breath for 40 minutes.' With walking meditation the path one selects creates the boundary. One chooses a stretch of (relatively) level ground - about 20 to 30 paces long - and marks either end in some way. This can be with sticks or rocks or piles of leaves - anything will do as long as it is quite clear. Between two trees is a traditional path but these are not readily come by so well placed. If you find walking useful and think to do a lot then you can build a path with brick edging and gravel or bark floor - or whatever materials you have to hand. The advantage the boundaries of a walking path have over say those of breath meditation is that they are much more tangible. If you were walking between two trees you would be conveniently reminded that you had lost mindfulness when you got to the end of the path and bent your nose against the tree.

Walk on:
The defined nature of a path helps contain the mind and the tendency to wander.
Begin at one end of the path. Bring attention to the body. You could spend a few moments doing 'body sweeping' [see: SAMATHA]. Feel a sense of balance - both internal and external. Determine how long you will walk for. Let go of expectations. Relax. The usual suggestion is to maintain the focus on the feelings at the soles of the feet - this helps define the boundary further. There is the possibility of distraction, and one can get caught in looking at the clouds or the flowers or the birds, etc.. Walk with eyes downcast, looking about three paces ahead. Proceed at a 'normal' pace. Get to the end of the path - stop - turn around - stop - begin walking. Try this for at least 15 minutes. An hour is good too.

You can experiment with the point of focus. The swing of the arms - or just the hands. The balance of the head (as in walking with a book on top of). Try keeping attention on the sensation of 'the whole body walking'. Or, the sensations of the wind or the sun on the body. Or joining walking with breath meditation. Try walking very slowly, noting each shift of the body, the positions of the feet and legs. You could formularise this: lifting left leg, stepping forward, reaching, lowering, placing, transferring weight, etc. If you are limited by space - especially if you are indoors - you could try circumambulating a room. You could do this with a group of people - there is no leader and a need to be sensitive to the group energy / speed. You could combine walking with chanting (it is fairly common for monastics to learn their chanting on the walking path). Try noting the beginning, middle and end of each length of the path (as with the breath). Note the intention to stop (easy, as it is signed by the end of the path); the intention to turn around (not so easy as it is only signed by a movement of the mind).
It is good to develop personal boundaries or a style and just work with that. Be careful of the butterfly practice - 5 minutes of this, a bit of the other, etc. Be clear that you are being clear.



eyes downcast

Set your session up with the attitude of having nothing to get and, literally, nowhere to go. You can just enjoy a walk. Relax.
Adjust the pace to suit your state of mind. Walk vigorously when drowsy or trapped in obsessive thought - like worry, anger, fear. If you are restless or impatient maintain a firm, gentle and steady pace. Get a sense of your internal energy and then set a pace to balance that.
Walking can be an occasion for insight.
As a good portion of the thinkery is involved in keeping the body upright and forwarding, thought tends to be reduced and the mind can shift into 'neutral' quite easily. It is often into this 'doing nothing', letting it be' space that insight will arise.
Associate your walking practice with 'every day' walking. Bring the sense of composure, containment, focus, etc. into your mind as you walk from your bedroom into the kitchen - down the road - in the shops (especially the eyes downcast part). This will greatly support your mindfulness in 'the world'.



Lying down:
As one of the four postures this can be used for meditation. Lie full length on your (right) side with the left arm laying along your upper side and the right arm under your head (or vice versa). One can relax the body but there is a sense of being balanced on one side which helps stop one from falling asleep.
A common thing is not having enough time to meditate. You could try bed time meditation. At the end of the day - you have switched the light out - it is time for sleep. Usually there is some time before you actually fall asleep. Use this time for meditation. Relax. Breathe. Silently recite a mantra. Practice metta. You can develop a range of practices. This will make falling asleep easier and will affect the quality both of your sleep and your waking.
If you do keep falling asleep during your meditation time perhaps you just need some sleep. It is not uncommon that peoples energy is dependent on external stimulus. The first days of a meditation retreat - without that stimulus - and they are falling asleep all over the place. Make an effort but be compassionate.