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Preparations For Certificate in Meditation: Walking Meditation

Finding a Suitable Place

The place where the Lord Buddha did walking meditation at Bodhgaya after his Enlightenment still exists to this day. His walking path was seventeen steps long. These days the Forest Monks tend to make their walking meditation paths much longer — up to thirty steps long. The beginner may find thirty pages too long because their mindfulness has not yet developed. By the time you come to the end of the path, your mind may have been ―around the world and back.‖ Remember, walking is a stimulating posture, and initially the mind tends to wander a great deal. It is usually better for beginners to start off on a shorter path; fifteen paces would be a good length.

If you do a walk meditation outside, find a secluded place where you won’t be distracted or disturbed. It is good to find a walking path that is slightly enclosed. It can be a distraction to walk in an open area where there is a view, as you may find that the mind is drawn out to the scenery. If the path is closed in, it tends to bring the mind inwards, into one’s self and towards peace. An enclosed area is especially suitable for speculative personalities who like to think a lot; it helps to calm their minds.

Preparing the Body and Mind

Once you have chosen a suitable path, stand at one end. Stand erect. Put the right hand on the left in front of you. Don’t walk with your hands behind your back. A meditation master who visited the monastery where I was staying once commented when he saw one of the  guests  walking  up  and  down  with  his  hands  behind  his back:

―He’s not walking meditation; he’s going for a stroll.‖ By placing the hands in front, it creates a clear determination to focus the mind on walking meditation, to differentiate from ―just walking.‖

The practice is first to develop samādhi, a Pali word that means focusing the mind, developing the mind to one-pointedness by gradual degrees of mindfulness and concentration. To focus the mind, one has to be diligent and determined. This requires a degree of physical as well as mental composure. One begins by composing oneself by clasping the hands in front. Composing the body helps to compose the mind. Having thus composed the body, one should then stand still and bring awareness and attention to the body. Then raise your hands together in Anjali, a gesture of respect, and with your eyes shut reflect for a few minutes on the qualities of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sagha.

Contemplate having taken refuge in the Buddha, the Wise One, He who knows and Sees, the Awakened One, the Fully Enlightened One. Reflect in your heart on the qualities of the Buddha for a few minutes. Then recall the Dhamma—the Truth that you are striving to realise on the walking meditation path. Finally, bring to mind the Sagha, especially those fully Enlightened Ones who have realised the Truth by cultivating meditation.

Then bring the hands down in front of you and make a mental determination on how long you are going to ―walk meditation’, be it half an hour, one hour, or more. However long you determine to walk for, adhere to it. In this manner, you are nurturing the mind at that initial stage of the meditation with zest, inspiration, and confidence.


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