Walking Meditation

Periods of walking meditation alternated with silent seated mediation at a 7-day silent retreat I attended. At one of her talks during the retreat, Christina Feldman mentioned that we might find it easier to sustain concentration during walking meditation because that was closer to our experience in the West.

I decided to use the first 45-minute walking meditation period to learn the layout of the corridors and buildings at the retreat center. I walked up and down the stairs leading down to the laundry facilities, I thought I might as well get some exercise. Then I remembered walking meditation is not supposed to be goal oriented. I noticed several people walking back and forth in a lovely light filled “walking meditation room” with polished wood floors, and a large plant.

As we walked back and forth, with each of us in our own lane, suddenly and without seeming effort, my awareness became much more focused. This must be what Goldstein describes as being “inwardly steadied, composed and unified. This is … concentration that is calm and refined, achieving increasing levels of mental purification”in his book, Mindfulness; A practical guide to awakening on p. 276. The enhanced steady access to moment to moment sensory awareness came with a feeling of floating through time and space.

As I walked to the meditation hall for the next period of silent sitting, it came to me that it might be possible to simply let go. In an interview with one of the retreat teachers, I said, “All we need to do is let go into the present moment.” Pointing a finger at me, she said “That’s it!” She went on say, “It is simple but not so easy, as we all know.” Goldstein also seemed to provide confirmation that I was onto something, “liberation is not about becoming or getting, not about holding on or craving or clinging, but about letting go and letting be” (p. 306).

In the days that followed at that retreat, I never recaptured that stable effortless floating awareness. Even now, my nightly sitting meditation practice remains a work in progress. My attention wanders and I get lost in planning and dreaming. Still it seems a way to weed and tend my “garden” based on the benefits I see in my life. I find I can sustain steady awareness more easily during relational mindfulness practices like Insight Dialogue. And bringing all the open “let go” awareness I can muster to my daily walks in a nearby woodsy park never fails to provide delightful new discoveries.

Author: katzlator

My writing, photography, consulting and workshops aim to inspire engagement with resources for wellbeing.