Meditation doesn’t always have to be practised sitting down. Moving meditations can be practised while running, dancing, doing the gardening or cleaning, and when exercising or walking.
Martial arts, Tai Chi and Yoga are all forms of moving meditation. Athletes often have peak experiences while training or competing. The meditative awareness induced by being totally focused and present in the body as it moves can trigger a spiritual awakening.
Zen walking is called kinhin and is usually practised in between sessions of sitting meditation, or zazen. But it can be practised on its own and is a great way to become calm and centred – once you’ve got the hang of it. Zen walking is harder than it looks!
- Brings the focus of mindfulness to walking
- Helps you integrate your mind with movement
- Helps you to slow down and focus
- Provides relief from long periods of sitting meditation
Zen walking can be practised indoors going round and round a room or through the house. Or you can practise outdoors, but you will need to be alone, unless the others with you are also practising Zen walking.
Decide where you’re going to walk before you start and map it out in your mind…
- Stand up straight and relax. Bring your hands together at your chest with your left hand in a loose fist and your fight hand placed over it. Make sure your shoulders are relaxed and breathe evenly.
- Walk slowly along your chosen route. Take a half-step with every cycle of breath like this: (breathe in) place your right heel, (breathe out) place the right ball of your foot, (breathe in) place your left heel, (breathe out) place the left ball of your foot, and so on. This is incredibly slow and harder to do than you expect!
- Keep your focus on your breath and keep your eyes lowered, directed straight ahead on the path.
- If thoughts intrude, bring your awareness back to the breath and keep taking steps.
- At the end of the session, stop and walk normally for a few minutes, still focusing on your breath before returning to your day.
It has to be said that the first time I tried to do Zen walking I nearly fell over! It takes some practise to get it right and not wobble as you walk. The key is to slow right down and don’t rush. Remember, there is nowhere to go – you’re just walking.