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Copyright 2012 Ellis-Jones Enterprises Pty Limited. All Rights Reserved.

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  1. 1. A SIMPLE FORM OF MINDFULNESS WALKING MEDITATION By Dr Ian Ellis-JonesMindfulness is simply the presence of a calm, alert, steady, open, deliberate, ‘curious’ butchoiceless (that is, accepting, non-judgmental and imperturbable) awareness of, and bareattention to, the action of the present moment ... one’s body, body functions and sensations, thecontent of one’s consciousness (thoughts, feelings, images, memories, etc) and consciousnessitself. Mindfulness is awareness of awareness. Mindfulness is training in self-culture, self-improvement and self-help.Although most, if not all, mindfulness instructors and practitioners advocate some individual,personalised tuition and guidance in the beginning ... for very good (and not self-serving)reasons ... what follows is a very simple or basic form of mindfulness walking meditation for useat home, in the office, in the park ... or anywhere for that matter.Most people dont know how to walk. Sad but true. ‘Walking meditation is an art!’ writes MartineBatchelor. ‘You are not going anywhere, you are walking just for the sake of walking.’ Walkingmeditation helps to foster calmness, relaxation ... and, most importantly, awareness. As with allmindfulness, the ‘key’ is to be aware as you walk.Walking meditation is meditation in action, using the natural movement of walking to fostermindfulness. It is the bare experience of walking. For many, including myself, walking meditationis the preferred form of mindfulness meditation, and ordinarily should precede a sittingmeditation as it centres the mind.How does walking meditation differ from ‘normal’ walking? Well, walking meditation is similar to‘normal’ walking but it is considerably slower, as well as deliberate, intentional and mindful. Nowthis is important. Walking meditation is not physical exercise but wakeful presence.In order to engage in walking meditation, first choose a quiet place … without distractions. Itmay be indoors or outdoors. All you need is a short path, which doesn’t have to be a ‘path’ perse but simply one you ‘create’, so to speak, by walking backwards and forwards ... or, if youprefer, in a circular fashion. The path should be some 3-10 (preferably around 6) metres inlength, must have a definite ‘start’ and ‘end’, and its surface should be flat and even.Walking meditation has been described as ‘walking with presence and mindfulness’. It is awonderful means to connect mind and body with the here and now, for it keeps one centered inthe present moment. Begin by standing at the beginning of your path. Start with a ‘standingmeditation’ (‘Standing, standing’) for a minute or two. The focus is on your body ... not yourbreath ... in a walking meditation. Feel the sensation of your feet ‘pressing’ against thefloor/earth. Does it feel hard or soft? Warm or cold? Feel the whole body standing … and laterslowly and gently turning (‘Turning, turning’) ... with awareness. Focus your attention minutelyand purposefully on each action. Remember, you are not going anywhere ... you are justwalking.In sitting meditation the focus of attention is the breath. However, in walking meditation thefocus of attention is the moving body. Walk barefooted or with socks only … preferably. Nowbegin to walk slowly. Focus on each step. Feel each step as it comes. Be fully present witheach step. Notice every sensation of the walking process. Walk ‘flat-footed’. Place the foot downflat … heal first … toes later. ‘Left, right, left, right …’ Steps short … about 15- 20 cm apart.
  2. 2. Maintain correct posture in the standing position ... Walk mindfully … eyes half-open ... lookingstraight ahead (not around). Your pace should ideally be very slow to brisk. Note (and mentallynote or label, at least at the beginning) the lifting of the heal (‘lifting’), the forward movement(‘pushing’), and the placing of the foot down (‘putting’ or ‘dropping’).Over time, you can build up to noting all 6 component parts of each step ... concurrent with theactual experience of the various movements ... ‘raising’, ‘lifting’, ‘pushing’, ‘dropping’, ‘touching’,and ‘pressing’. Be aware of the contact between your foot and the ground. Allow some 60 percent of your ‘tension’ to dissipate through your feet ... with the remaining 40 per cent dissipatingin the non-resistant ‘zone of airspace’ in front of you, into which you are constantly entering.Feel the airspace in front of you as yours to feel, enter and embrace. Feel its non-resistance,emptiness and friendliness. Be gentle with yourself. Say to yourself, interiorly, ‘Be well’ ...sending out loving kindness to others and yourself. Walk through this airspace mindfully butgracefully, effortlessly and without resistance ... for such is its nature. At the risk of repeatingmyself, dont follow your breath or abdominal movements in this type of mindfulness meditation.Observe the movement of your feet whilst engaged in your walking meditation ... but don’t lookat your feet. Feel each step mindfully as you lift each foot off the floor/ground. Feel thesensations in each foot, ankle, leg, knee, the hips, the back, the neck, the head, the face, etc.Look at a place about 2 metres ahead. Don’t gaze about here and there. Maintain good posture… straight back. Hands by side, in pockets or clasped in front or at rear ... resting easily ...wherever they’re comfortable. Breathe normally. If background thoughts, etc, arise ... simplykeep focused on noting your steps. Be aware of the movements with your mind as well as thesensations throughout your body. If you become distracted, and focusing on noting your stepsdoesn’t help ... stand for a few moments, and watch your breath ... until the mind calms. Be fullymindful with an alert, relaxed attention to the present moment. Continue to walk mindfully for 10to 20 minutes ... or longer.At end of walk, stand (‘standing, standing’) for a short while, observing your posture andbreathing … mindfully and attentively. After standing mindfully for a few moments, gently returnto your ‘daily life’ ... and dont forget to reflect upon whatever insights you gained into yourselfand others as a result of your walking meditation.Mindfulness meditation is not about stopping the mind or stopping thoughts. MindfulnessMeditation is about allowing thoughts to be present but not letting them run you.One final, most important, matter. Mindfulness meditation needs to be brought into every aspectof ones daily life. In the words of Lama Yeshe, ‘Whether you are walking, talking, working,eating ... whatever you do, be conscious of the actions of your body, speech and mind.’ Copyright © 2012 Ellis-Jones Enterprises Pty Limited (ABN 38 088 534 141). All Rights Reserved. The information contained in this document is for educational purposes only. The information is not medical advice, is not intended to be a replacement for professional medical advice, and is not to be used to treat or diagnose any medical condition. If needed, such advice should be obtained from the services of a competent health care professional. No liability is accepted for any loss or damage that may arise from the use of or reliance on the information contained in this document.