Meditation in Motion: Vipassana Walking Meditation

Vipassana is a meditation technique that focuses on the deep connection between mind and body, which can be experienced directly by disciplined attention to physical sensation. This style traces directly to the way the Buddha himself practiced, and although non-sectarian, it is common to all Buddhist traditions. What we commonly call Mindfulness Meditation is rooted in Vipassana.

Most people think of meditation as sitting quietly, but traditional Buddhist teachings identify four meditation postures: sitting, walking, standing, and lying down. Walking meditation brings a number of benefits in addition to mindfulness: awareness, concentration, and stamina.

Buddhist teacher and Theraveda monk, Gil Fronsdal says, “In our daily lives, we spend more time walking than sitting quietly with our eyes closed. Walking meditation can serve as a powerful bridge between meditation practice and daily life, helping us to be more present, mindful, and concentrated in ordinary activities. It can reconnect us to a simplicity of being and the wakefulness that comes from it.”

Formal Walking Meditation:

Find a path 30 to 40 feet in length and simply walk back and forth. When you come to the end of your path, come to a full stop, turn around, stop again, and then start again. Walking back and forth on a single path allows your mind to disengage from negotiating the path. Keeping your eyes cast down, settle into a slow, easy pace. Bring your awareness to your legs and feet, and the physical sensations of walking. Labeling each step as “left, right,” or simply, “stepping, stepping,” will help you stay present. Try to dedicate your attention to the sensations of walking and let go of everything else. When thoughts or feelings come up, turn your focus back to the physical sensation of walking. Though there is no prescribed length of time for a walking meditation, a minimum of 20 minutes will allow the mind and body to more fully surrender to the process.

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