Gil Fronsdal teaches how to practice walking meditation, the bridge between your meditating mind and your everyday mind.  

Photo by Devon Hawkins.

Walking meditation is a powerful bridge between formal sitting practice and our daily life, helping us be more present and concentrated in our ordinary activities. Here’s how I do it:

1. First, find a pathway about thirty to forty feet long, and simply walk back and forth. Walking in a circle is more commonly done, but, in my opinion, the rhythm of doing so may sometimes foster and conceal a wandering mind. At the end of the path, come to a full stop, turn around, stop again, and then start again.

2. Find a pace that gives you a sense of ease. Fast walking might be appropriate when you are sleepy. When the mind is calm and alert, slow walking may feel more natural.

Let your attention settle into the body. I sometimes find it restful to think of letting my body take me for a walk. Feel the sensations of each step.

3. Let your attention settle into the body. I sometimes find it restful to think of letting my body take me for a walk. Feel the sensations of each step.

4. As an aid to staying present, you can use quiet mental labeling for your steps. The label might be “stepping, stepping” or “left, right.” Labeling also points the mind toward what you want to observe. If after a while you notice that you are saying “right” for the left foot and “left” for the right foot, you know your attention has wandered. When walking more slowly, you might try breaking each step into phases and using the traditional labels “lifting, placing.”

If powerful emotions or thoughts arise and call your attention away from the sensations of walking, it is often helpful to stop walking and attend to them. When they are no longer compelling, you can return to the walking meditation. You might also find that something beautiful or interesting catches your eye while you’re walking. If you can’t let go of it, stop walking and do “looking” meditation. Continue walking when you have finished looking.

Some people find that their minds are more active or distracted during walking than during sitting meditation. This may be because walking is more active and the eyes are open. If so, don’t be discouraged and don’t think that walking is thus less useful. It may in fact be more useful to learn to practice with your more everyday mind.

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