A mid-day walking meditation

by JordanB

Walking meditation is an old practice. In the Maha Satipatthana Sutta, it reads “a bhikkhu while walking knows ‘I am walking.'” The practice of kinhin interrupts extended periods of zazen and probably has, among other things, the practical purpose of stretching the legs. In my practice, I do sitting meditation in the morning; however, I find that at mid-day I am tired from working and need to be more active.

One day, I was thinking about my scattered brain, and it seemed that my desires were like sheep without a shepherd, running in all directions at once whenever they hear a noise or see a flashing light. This is the mind without wisdom. Desires, like sheep, do not know the thing they desire; they are dumb. Wisdom is a shepherd, who calms the flock and leads them to nourishing food and living waters. The mid-day walking meditation is a way to calm the flock of our desires after being exposed to many of sensations throughout the day, enough so that they are able to graze peacefully on good food without being startled.

Find somewhere you can walk uninterrupted for about fifteen minutes, or more, or less. Even if you only walk for five minutes, it is beneficial. The place preferably is pleasant to be in. A skilled shepherd finds nourishment everywhere, but as wisdom is being trained it is easier in pleasant places. Do not drink caffeine or other stimulant an hour before beginning.

At the start of the walk, set the intention to be simply present and aware, much as you would at the beginning of any other meditation. This intention is the voice of the shepherd, whose voice the sheep know and will follow.

As you walk simply take things as they are, without concern for them. Your thoughts should be allowed to drift easily, without being hurried or pushed. Take in your surroundings, but do not force them in. Simply permit them to enter your eyes, ears, nose, skin. Walk with an easy stride, with your back straight and your hands at your side. If you find that you are moving frantically or nervously, or are making an effort to fix your concentration, set your intention again. If you stop for a minute to absorb some particular thing, then stop for a minute to absorb that thing and then move on.

At the end of your walk, it may be a good time to read a few verses of sacred writing or poetry to ease the transition back into daily life.