March to fullness-How to meditate while walking and what benefits it has

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March to fullness - How to meditate while walking and what benefits it has.

It is possible to walk without a fixed goal, combining maximum attention and maximum relaxation. That kind of walking is linked to Zen meditation. How to practice it?

March to fullness - How to meditate while walking and what benefits it has.

By meditative walking we understand the exercise that makes walking a spiritual gesture and that provides a deep sense of peace and inner order.

In both Zen and Western monastic traditions, the meditative march occupies an important place. When doing Zen meditation practices, many people are surprised to find that between sitting and sitting a meditation or meditative walk is performed.

IS IT POSSIBLE TO MEDITATE WHILE WALKING?

When we speak of meditation, we are referring to a state in which the person who meditates at the service of what is essential, opens internally to contact with what is outside and within, without judging it. Meditation is not an intellectual understanding of the world; it is an experience.

If we want to be precise, we cannot speak of “doing meditation”. When you practice meditation, you are actually trying to find the conditions that favor contact with the essentials. That contact is meditation. Rather than being done through a voluntary act, it occurs.

Meditating constitutes an exercise in personal transformation in which the person opens up internally, finds the way in which that contact is given, understands which attitudes block it and which ones favor it.

When you know how to meditate, you can stay meditative in different ways; that is to say, the person is in inner contact with what is essential and with his deep self, whatever he does.

There are some basic techniques for the practice of meditation that have proven their effectiveness for centuries, accompanying thousands of people on this path of openness to the essential.

You can meditate in various ways: sitting, standing, walking, performing daily life tasks, running, dancing…

The meditative walk can be done alone or in a group. When meditating with the support of a group, walking between two sittings is a special moment in which each person walks for and by himself and, at the same time, enters a group rhythm. It is a privileged moment of contact with others and of union. In this article we show you exercises to practice meditative walking.

BENEFITS OF MEDITATIVE WALKING

The meditative march helps to mobilize the limbs that during sitting meditation could have become stiff, regenerates energy, mobilizes blood and prevents circulatory problems. But meditative walking is much more than a complement to sitting meditation, it is another meditation technique in itself.

Verticality –interpreted as a symbol of the contact between heaven and earth–, the rhythm of walking, silence and slowness lead the practitioner to a state of deep mental tranquility that favors experiences of a spiritual nature.

Meditative walking is useful for anyone who wants to do a simple, pleasant, healthy and spiritual exercise. It has no age limits nor does it require any particular physical condition.

With a little training, anyone can improve their self-observation with this exercise and progress on their personal path in a simple and autonomous way. It allows you to explore yourself internally and learn to adopt ways of being more free and serene.

Meditative walking can be a great exercise to learn to know yourself and to function better in the world.

It is a transformation exercise, since practiced in a conscious and regular way helps to bring out the best in ourselves. But walking can go even deeper. It can become an exercise in personal growth and even spiritual experience.

Who has not ever gone out for a walk to “clarify the ideas”? Perhaps you yourself feel the need from time to time to wander aimlessly, alone in the city, on the beach in winter or in the mountains, to feel at peace with yourself.

Aristotle and his disciples walked while he gave them his philosophical speeches (peripatetic school), and it is known that the human brain underwent its greatest transformations when our species adopted the upright posture.

In addition to the feeling of fullness and well-being that is experienced when walking meditatively, these practices promote health at all levels:

  • The journal NeuroReport reported an MIT study according to which people who meditated for at least six hours a week had increased volume in areas of the cerebral cortex associated with attention, decision-making and memory.
  • Scientists have found that meditation causes permanent neuronal and physiological changes. They believe they can affirm that it allows them to develop happier, less anxious or depressed temperaments. In the same way, unifying the brain, mind and body makes it easier to adapt to situations of stress and uncertainty.
  • Meditating daily can reduce the risk of heart attacks by improving your ability to relax.
  • The immune system seems to be strengthened as well.
  • Meditation helps chronically ill patients reduce their symptoms and improve their quality of life, according to a study from the Center for Integrative Medicine at T. Jefferson University Hospital in Philadelphia.
  • Walking meditation also maintains good muscle tone and oxygenates muscles and brain.
  • Stability in movement and relaxation of the muscles. The center of gravity of the human being is between the two feet, in the front part of these, for that reason the body tends to go forward. To keep you from falling, the antigravity muscles – the calves and the spinal muscles – contract isometrically. Vertically, for a better balance the center of gravity must be in the belly. If there are tensions, the center of gravity is shifted and the balance too.

HOW TO PRACTICE WALKING MEDITATION

Some of its principles can be applied during every day walking. For example, you can walk in an inwardly meditative attitude while you go to get bread or the newspaper, at work or in any other daily commute.

We are going to explain what the exercise that makes walking a meditative act consists of. For this we will carry out three series of exercises and we will give the necessary guidelines.

FIRST EXERCISE: ESTABLISH A FOUNDATION

Before continuing reading, I suggest that you leave the screen, get up and walk.

But it goes very, very slowly.

If you are in a small space, turn around when you reach the wall and repeat the walk several times.

Observe yourself, feel. Don’t worry about how you are doing it. Just go and observe. The experience can be a bit disturbing if you feel out of balance. Do not worry. It is habitual. We’ll meet again in five minutes…

SECOND EXERCISE: UNDERSTANDING THE PRINCIPLES OF MEDITATION

The walking meditation technique is based on a few key principles:

  • Keep silence. This is an essential point: you must maintain maximum concentration on what you are doing, on what you are feeling. Silence allows one to enter a dimension of oneself different from the usual one. You have to keep quiet and you also have to calm your mind, so that the cadence of thoughts is slower and slower.
  • Connect fluently. Being silent does not mean that there is isolation from the external world, on the contrary: it must allow to be attentive to what is heard, to the song of a bird, to the noise of a motorcycle, to the voice of the neighbor … let the noises pass, the sounds that come from outside or from one’s own mind, without offering resistance or being “hooked” on them.
  • Presence in the present moment. With a light, open and relaxed attitude, attention should be focused on every physical sensation. If there is a smell of apple pie, we will feel that smell, if it is cold, we will feel the cold. We must remain present in ourselves and in our context. You can focus your attention on the here and now, on the rhythm, on the breath, on the sensations … This calms the mind and emotions.
  • The posture should be upright, the position of the back relaxed and extended upwards. You have to feel that the head is directed firmly towards the sky. But for this, you should not make a stretching effort, rather you should loosen the lumbar and cervical areas, where a large part of the tensions tends to accumulate. The shoulders should be as loose as possible, without stiffness.
  • Take off shoes it is highly recommended to exercise barefoot. With each step you should feel that the foot is rooted in the ground that the weight shifts from one side to the other. This gives a feeling of firmness, of stability.
  • Feel the weight. The heavier a body is, the more stable it is. When a person is tense, his weight is the same as without tension, but not the sensation of weight. When the weight is not felt, the person has the impression of floating and unstable, they may even stumble. To feel the weight, you have to let go inside. It is an attitude of touching the ground, of truly leaning fully on the ground.
  • Slowness. This exercise is done with extreme slowness. He walks very slowly at all times.
  • With your eyes open. This, which may seem obvious, is not so obvious, since many people have a tendency to close their eyes in this type of exercise to feel better. The gaze should be directed as far as possible, as if it could penetrate what is in front of and go even further.
  • From the center. The impulse to walk arises from the hara, a Japanese word that indicates the area of ​​the belly and pelvis. It is the center of the stability of the person. Learning to position yourself internally in this area provides a great feeling of physical and emotional anchorage. When walking, you should always feel that you are walking from the hara, as if the movements arise from there.

In everyday life, you tend to walk quickly and with goals in mind to be able to do everything that needs to be done. Meditative walking, on the other hand, proposes a slow walk that is an exercise in itself.

  • Walking without wanting to get anywhere. The fundamental thing about this exercise is walking for walking. It is not intended to reach any exterior place, but rather an interior way of being. That is why it is good to start doing this exercise in a room, in the corridor or any closed place that allows you to concentrate on the walk itself, without purpose.
  • Present at every step. Walking is taking a step. The next one is of no interest at this time. Every gesture is important, every moment unique.
  • Observing the breath. Without wanting to control it or adapt it to the rhythm of the steps, just observing. Often when entering the meditative state, the breath harmonizes with the steps, but the goal is not to “build” this harmony, but simply to allow yourself to breathe.

Now does the first exercise again, incorporating what you just read? Do the exercise for at least five minutes.

Go and watch yourself. Feel the differences with your way of walking before and now.

THIRD EXERCISE: THE SUBTLETY OF MOVEMENT

Let’s now see what the precise principles of walking meditation are:

  • All movement arises from stillness. The meditative walk begins while standing upright, feeling the weight, feeling the verticality, settling internally in the hara. Before you start walking, you have to take time to feel, to position yourself correctly.
  • Feel what the ideal time to start walking is. It is a precise moment: before is too soon; later, too late.
  • One foot naturally rises. If the exercise of standing on the hara has been performed correctly and the movement originates from the pelvis, the foot follows the movement of the hara. That is, the first thing that advances are the pelvis, which ends up pulling the leg and the foot.
  • The heel is raised and little by little the whole sole of the foot is raised until the step is taken and the foot is placed in front of the other, as if advancing on a wide straight line.
  • The weight, which was on the foot that initiates the movement, is gently placed on the other foot, which remains firmly on the ground.
  • When the first foot has come to touch the ground, it does so by leaning on the heel until it comes to rest on the toes. At this point, you have regained all your weight, allowing the other foot to lift up and take a step.
  • The movements, very slow, must be fluid and continuous, without there being moments of stopping. A rhythmic sway is established.

You can do the exercise again now that you have read the technique to the end. Ideally, do this exercise for a minimum of ten minutes; you can go up to fifteen or more if you want. Feel the differences.

Try to enjoy this moment. Don’t be in a hurry. You have to take time to feel, to really get into the gesture and come to enjoy feeling it.

If it makes you heavy, bored or you don’t have the feeling of feeling “nothing special”, don’t despair. Normally this exercise is carried out by someone experienced: here you are doing a first test. You may need someone to teach you in person how to get the most out of the meditative walk.

PREPARATORY EXERCISES

To get the most out of this exercise, you can do some previous practices that will help you find the right posture to walk:

  • You can train yourself to walk upright with a weight on your head. This will help you measure the vertical dimension and feel your true height, not shrink. It can be very pleasant, as long as it is not done with tension.
  • Another preparation exercise is to roll a rubber ball with your foot. This exercise will help you to feel even more contact with the ground, to easily feel your weight and your roots in the earth.
  • Likewise, any movement that can allow you to release tension in your back and stay as loose as possible is good preparation.

MEDITATION IN PROGRESS IN THERAPY: DO WE WALK AS WE LIVE?

This exercise can also be used in the course of psychotherapy. For this it is necessary that the therapists and psychologists have experienced it and know it thoroughly.

The way of walking can express the situation we are experiencing.

Walking and a series of archetypal movements (putting a foot to the mouth, rotating the shoulders, crawling, squatting …) are a fundamental part of our way of being in the world.

Their learning requires a long and complex process in which physical and emotional learning are intertwined at the neural level. When you learn to observe the march, you can learn a lot about yourself.

In the same way that we can see if the breath is full or blocked, we can see if the walk is fluid or tense. In the same way that breathing exercises can serve to calm the mind, the meditative walk also accompanies us with simplicity and efficiency in the search for inner calm.

I remember the case of a sweet and reserved woman who came to my office with a problem that turned out to be depression. I watched her enter the office from the waiting room and saw her shy walk, almost on tiptoe.

I proposed the exercise of the march. More than walking, it floated, without having a real contact with the ground. He did not feel his weight, his diaphragm was very blocked and his feet did not seem to find the rhythm of the slow walk.

What his mind could not say, his walk expressed. As we analyzed his personal situation and understood what was happening to him, the exercise of the march developed in parallel.

Little by little he felt the weight, the support on the ground, his walk became more plantar. One day came when he took great pleasure in walking slowly, and was able to simply concentrate on the step he was taking. She was emerging from her depression, steadily and increasingly confident.

A man came to my office because he felt bad in his daily life. He worked long hours and felt not pleasure but burden in what he did.

When he saw him walk, he observed that his feet were forced on their toes and his heel barely made contact with the ground. His diaphragm was very blocked, his lower back suffered. At the same time, he advanced with his chest swollen and his head first.

Little by little he realized his posture and that that posture in turn reflected an attitude toward the world.

As her inner diaphragm relaxed, her breathing became fuller. She learned that her drive to move could come out of the center of her abdomen rather than her head (“I have to move forward, I have to!”).

Understanding his attitude led him to gradually modify his relationship with himself and with the environment and to be happier.

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