Walking meditation is my closest friend. It is always available, always there for me. My meditative steps soothe, reassure, comfort and embrace me when I need it most. I practice walking meditation wherever I am, walking from building to building. I practice it when I’m happy, when I’m angry, when I’m lonely, when I’m sad. Walking puts me in touch with myself, and with the wonderful and healing elements of life around me. It sets me free from the junk and grounds me in reality.
Not walking like a zombie
To walk in meditation simply means to walk knowing we are walking. Walking like this I’m awake to my steps, awake to my life right here, right now. I put all my attention, all my heart, into my steps. Simply being with each step is enough to bring stillness and freshness to my walking moment.
Synchronizing mind, steps and breathing
I bring 100% of my attention to the contact between my feet and the ground, and I gently combine my steps with my breathing. Breathing in, perhaps I take three or four steps. Breathing out, I take five or six steps. I’m just a breathing-walking being in that moment.
Landing into the present moment
I’m someone whose mind is always buzzing, but when I walk, I really let go of the thoughts whizzing around in my head: I let go of tension that may be there, regretting something I’ve said or done, or hurt or disappointment about something that happened in the past; and I let go of my fears, anxieties and stress about what I’m facing ahead. And I just focus on my steps. Freeing myself from the weight of the past, and freeing myself from angst about the future, I land, lightly and freely into the present moment.
Awakening to life, to freedom
I feel the contact of my feet with the ground, and take my steps solidly and freely, rather than trippingly. Each step is my life: I cannot find my life in the future. So each step is worth taking for real, and not in a hurry. So I gently put all my attention into the point of contact between my feet and the ground. I know when I’m walking on asphalt, or pebbles, or grass or gravel. I feel that relationship. I feel the breeze on my face, the warm sunshine or chill at dusk. I feel the expanse of the sky above me and the vast earth beneath me. I hear the sound of the birds, the wind in the trees – or the roar of traffic & bustle of life around me. Walking like this I feel a kind of freedom.
Eye of the urban storm
I used to walk like this through downtown London on my way to work in the newsroom. I learnt that I could walk freely – but also fast. I could walk fast without hurrying, because I was there with every step. Even though there was traffic, sirens, and stress all around me, I used my mindfulness to bring my attention to the sky, the trees, the river, the earth. I found sources of solidity and freshness, and chose them as my reference point. As I walked I would let go my worries go into the sidewalk, and release the tension in my shoulders and chest. I felt like I was master of my life, and my environment – not carried along by the rush-hour majority, not taking on their stress as my own. My inner-city walking meditations were moments of freedom and of rest, when I was really myself, and really living my life.