by Mona Kino * September 2017
Summer was good. Not great, but ok. Too much unpredictable weather for my taste. One day, when I felt the weather was getting on my nerves once again I was so annoyed that I asked myself what is it that annoys me so much about it?
I chose to do a walking meditation which for me is one of the most useful and grounding ways of attending to my body. To be honest, it was not one of my favorite insights I ever had. It reminded me of my own unpredictability, which you also can call over-flexibility. And an inner voice was saying: „If just the weather would be fine I could pretend hurrying from A to B without thinking if it is necessary would be just as fine as well. It would feel right because it is just warm and cosy.“
But as no-one else is responsible for my wellbeing the weather isn´t either. And so I did focus on that inner voice once more and heard it say: „Yes, that’s how it is you are in an unstable mood at the moment and … what do you think about just a bit more structure for the next couple of month?“ This felt right. And so I do now, instead of wishing for predictable weather as an „all-is-ok-confirmation“ I re-establish a reasonable state of my flexibility.
Since walking meditation is like sitting meditation a simple practice for developing calm, connectedness, and awareness I am using the walking meditation to calm and collect myself. You can practice it regularly, any time you want and wherever you want. When you get up in the morning or even when you are on your way back home from work. To get to know it, I did start practicing barefoot at home. Now I am doing it sometimes while shopping or on my way to the bus stop with shoes on.
As you do with the breath in sitting meditation walking meditation is to learn to be aware as you walk, to use your natural movement of walking to cultivate mindfulness and wakeful presence.
To practice, select a place where you can walk comfortably back and forth, indoors or out, about ten to thirty steps.
Plant your feet firmly on the ground on the beginning of your imaginary path. Let your hands rest wherever you feel comfortable and open your senses to see and feel the whole surroundings for a minute or two.
Bring back your attention to your body, center yourself and feel how you are standing with your both feet on the ground.
Start to walk a bit more slowly than usual and pay attention to your body. With each step feel the sensations of lifting your foot and leg off of the ground and placing your foot back down on the earth. Feel each step mindfully as you walk. Which part of the foot is on the ground which part is lifted. How does it feel to stand just on one foot for a moment?
When you reach the end of your path, pause for a moment. Center yourself again, mindfully turn around, pause again so that you be aware of the first step you want to walk back. If you get used to it you can decide with your impulse whether you make a pause or walk on, or walk even backwards.
Experiment with the speed, this keeps you most present and walk back and forth for ten to twenty minutes – or even longer.
As with the breath in sitting, your attention will wander away many times. As soon as you notice this, acknowledge where it went softly, “thinking,” “planning,” “sorting,” “listening.” Then return to feel the next step.
Whether you have been away with your thoughts for one second or for ten minutes, no matter. Simply acknowledge softly where you have been and then come back here and now and the next step you are going to take.
Illustrated by Gesine Grotrian *