The Buddha Taught That Walking Meditation Is Excellent Physical Exercise

The Buddha taught that walking meditation is excellent physical exercise. It keeps us healthy, makes us more resilient, helps with digestion. Most importantly, it leads to a calm stability of mind that stays with us after the meditation has ended. Walking at a normal pace with eyes open can produce a samādhi more easily integrated into daily life than produced by sitting meditation.

 

Walking meditation can be alternated with sitting meditation. It may also be practiced in preference to sitting if the meditator is sleepy, for example, or if an illness or injury makes sitting difficult.

 

In the forest monasteries we walk on shaded paths between twenty to thirty paces long. On a twenty-four-pace path, the beginning, the middle and end of the path provide the opportunity to check one’s mindfulness every twelve paces. If the mind wanders, it does not do so for long.

 

The first task during walking meditation is the abandonment of distracting mental states. This may be accomplished by sustaining mindfulness on a single area of sensation such as that which appears in the soles of the feet as they touch the ground, or the whole body. Another popular technique is to inwardly recite a mantra such as ‘Buddho’ – ‘ Bud’ as the right foot touches the ground, ‘Dho’ as the left foot touches.

 

When the mind has freed itself of hindrances, it may be directed to contemplation of one of the three characteristics of existence: impermanence, suffering or not-self as they manifest in the present moment.

 

– Ajahn Jayasāro

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