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  • Questions on Walking Meditation

    Dear Ajahn Brahmali,

    Walking meditation is a very useful form of meditation. From what I've heard(in a talk by Ajahn Nyanadhammo "Walking the Forest Path") and experienced myself, is that it has the benefits of improving one's health, leads to energy in the body, the mindfulness developed from doing walking meditation is strong and stable and lasts for a longer duration and requires more effort to do walking meditation since we make the volition to move our feet.

    I've heard cases that some monks do walking meditation for nearly the whole day and many forest ajahn's were enlightened while doing walking meditation but in some traditions like the Goenka Vipassana retreats, walking meditation is not practiced at all.

    So my questions are:-
    Is walking meditation a necessary practice or is it just a support for the sitting practice?
    How do I determine whether walking meditation is appropriate for me or not at this particular point of my spiritual life? And if appropriate,how do I determine the amount of walking meditation that I should practice?

    With Metta.

  • #2
    Dear Abhishek,

    There are lots of references to walking meditation in the suttas, so the Buddha clearly regarded as important. It may not be absolutely necessary, but I suspect most people will find it beneficial.

    You can do walking meditation whenever the sitting becomes difficult. Sometimes you may be too restless to sit and walking meditation may be a good way to calm you down and make you ready for sitting. Or it may be that you are feeling slothful and that walking meditation may help you to clear your mind. Walking meditation is also good for reflection and contemplation. Reflection tends to come more naturally when the body is moving. Don't forget that reflection, the learning to see things in a new way, is an important part of the development of the mind.

    Do whatever feels right. If you are starting to feel peaceful and it feels natural to sit down, that is probably the right time to do so. Or you may have been reflecting on a particular topic and you feel the reflection has reached a natural end, again, that may be a good time to sit. Use your own wisdom. See what works, what gives results. Monitor yourself. The best wisdom is the one you develop for yourself.

    With metta.

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    • #3
      Thanks for the answer, Ajahn Brahmali.

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      • #4
        I"d say goenka didn't teach walking meditation because he was trying to teach a technique. His technique would be too difficult to teach a total beginner how to do. However at the very end of the retreat goenka tells you to take the practice into every activity you do and that includes walking.

        When i was on the retreat, i did do walking meditation a lot between sessions. I did it to exercise my body so i wouldn't lose muscle mass. I did it because it makes my mind happy. But more often than not i did a reflective type of practice rather than a pure mindfulness practice and certainly i didn't apply goenka's technique. But if you recall, when he suggested taking it into the rest of your life, what he asks you to do is to remain aware of the sensations. When you are doing activities you can really only be aware on the gross sensations such as the feel of food on the lips and tongue, and the contact with things etc. You won't be likely to feel any finer sensations like "vibrations" and such.

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        • #5
          Venerable Ajahn Brahmali,

          Aloha! May I tack on to Abishek's question? I was going to start a thread but fortunately found Abishek's thread

          Venerable Sir, would you teach me in brief the basics of how to do walking meditation? I've read many ways to do it but I would like to know the Forest Tradition's way of doing walking meditation. Currently, I do walking meditation and I recite "Buddho" and sometimes, I just try to feel the sensations on the bottom of my foot and the rest of my body.

          What is the proper way of doing walking meditation? Is this mind allowed to engage in thinking while walking? I've read that one should not be thinking, just focusing either on a mantra or the sensations of the foot.

          With hands pressed in reverence sending you my appreciation and thanks for your continued guidance. Anjali and Metta.

          With great respect,
          Russell

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          • #6
            Dear Russell,

            Sorry about the slow reply. I try to pace myself and not spend too much time on the internet. But if you are patient, I will eventually get around to answering your questions.

            Reciting Buddho or focusing on the feet are typical ways of doing walking meditation in the Thai forest tradition. In the Burmese Pa Auk Sayadaw tradition they even do mindfulness of breathing while walking. These methods are on the samatha side of the meditation spectrum.

            The suttas do not give any specific instructions for walking meditation, which seems to suggest that a broad range of practices can be undertaken, including reflection. An important aspect of Buddhist practice is the development of one's perceptions. Walking meditation is well-suited for this because the movement of the body can make reflection more natural than it may be in sitting meditation. Such reflection can cover a wide field, from the contemplation of impermanence and suffering, to reflection on the Buddha, to bringing up a sense of loving kindness and compassion for one's fellows. Anything really that moves one forward on the path.

            Reflection on the Dhamma and samatha meditation are complementary practices. They tend to reinforce each other.

            With metta.

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            • #7
              Venerable Ajahn Brahmali,

              Aloha and Anjali! Venerable sir, my apologies, I thought my first try sending my question failed due to computer problems I encountered (in thinking so I sent another one so please disregard).

              I sincerely appreciate your clarification on this matter. I'm very glad to find out that I can actually contemplate whilst practicing walking meditation. I thought I was only limited to mindfulness of the sensations and reciting "Buddho" Yay!

              Always very grateful for your continued guidance! Anjali and Metta!

              with great respect,
              Russell

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