We all walk on a daily basis, if we are fortunate enough to be given that opportunity. WE should remember to be thankful for that grace for without it life must be a whole lot more challenging!
Anyway, I got to thinking of a practice I enjoy a lot and thought I could share it with you because it is easy, fun, portable and builds character.
I learned walking meditation from my Master. He would have us line up on one side of a big practice space and learn the art of conscious walking. When you pick up each foot and raise it up towards your chest, pulling your toes back to open the ball of your foot; you extend that foot and place the heel on the ground. Slowly and carefully, you roll through your foot, opening your arch. Then, press your whole ball of your foot equally and with intention into the Earth to flow through your step. Then it is time to pick up the other leg and do it again.
It is best to find breath with each step. If it is possible to inhale as you raise the leg/foot flexed and exhale as you extend the leg to the Earth and flow through your step, use this breathing pattern. If that is too much try and get at least a breath in some how on each individual leg or foot.
Now, you are practicing breath control, body control and mind control because of that deep connection to what you are doing and how you are moving and breathing.
After we learned this form my Master would send us all around the room, practicing this technique in the midst of others. I used to get a giggle out of it because it was like learning how to walk all over again. It actually is a bit challenging in the beginning. Being in control and aware and making sure each part of a step happens fully and gracefully takes work!
Looking around the room first feeling goofy and then returning to my space you could begin to feel the difference this intention made in the room. Many people creating order, intention and energy together and apart was pretty cool!
So, in my life, I think of this mindful walking and practice it once in a while. You can really feel how things start slowing down and your connection to where you are and all your surroundings increases tremendously!
I have practiced this in nature outside where you can get a real sense of being connected to nature and Earth. It is so relaxing and amazing how you become one with your environment! It becomes so quiet that each sound is crystal clear and evokes deep sensations within you.
In the city, it is a totally different feeling, of course! I use this technique to change a foul mood or clear my mind. In this situation it actually does the opposite for me. It allows me to remove my self from the connection to the business of urban dwelling and refocus on my intention of walking, moving, being in step/in sync with my inner self. I usually don’t walk quite as slow, unless I feel like having people look at me as if I was weird which is fun sometimes too!
Truly this walking meditation done at a slow, conscious pace is enough to still the mind and remove the clutter.
It is a lot easier for me to refocus after a quick dose of pure energy which is only fully developed if you are doing your breathing constantly and deeply!
Maybe you will feel inspired to try this practice in your living room, at work down a long hall, a nature walk or hoofing it through center city.
(Try it for 5 minutes, then 10, 15, 20)