When we walk like we are rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
Meditation doesn’t need to be something we only do when we are sitting on the cushion. Walking meditation is a popular meditation technique that is often taught to help us continue our meditation (and mindfulness) when we’re not able to sit for long periods of time. Walking meditation is a simple technique that requires us to pay attention to the movement of the feet and legs as we lift them up and place one in front of the other. Traditionally, walking meditation is done very slowly so we can bring all our awareness to every movement and sensation.
A common walking meditation technique is to label all our movements. So as you begin lifting one foot slowly, you mentally recite ‘lifting, lifting’, then as you move it forward mentally recite, ‘moving, moving’ and then as you bring it down, mentally recite ‘dropping, dropping’. Then you repeat the same technique for the other foot. Speed doesn’t equate with skill or mastery here. In fact, the slower you go, the better your concentration will probably be.
In everyday life you won’t be able to walk as slowly as you do in walking meditation, and you shouldn’t try mentally labeling the movements anymore (so no need to recite, ‘lifting, moving, dropping’), but practicing this technique can help foster a greater awareness of your body and its movements, which will ultimately help with present moment awareness as you go about your day-to-day activities.