Recently the truly wise Bruce Morgen (see his Words
of Wisdom website at: http://www.atman.net/realization/
turned me on to a teacher I had not been aware of before,
Kenneth Folk http://kennethfolkdharma.com/
I then enjoyed
very much reading lots of what he shares as well as
watching YouTube videos by and about him. Here we have a
nice sample Kenneth has given us permission to use. Enjoy!
I used to hate walking meditation as taught by my
American vipassana teachers. The slowness of it was
painful to me, and I rarely felt that I was doing it
right. I practiced walking meditation between sits on
retreat because there was nothing else to do. Then,
while on a one-year retreat in Asia, I noticed that
the Burmese yogis often walked fast, or at normal speed.
They didn't even always walk in a straight line.
Sometimes they walked in a circle, or wandered. My whole
idea of what walking meditation could be opened up to
almost infinite possibilities, as did my relationship
to it. Where I used to grudgingly use walking as a way
to kill time or to set up the sittings, nowadays I use
the sittings to set up walking. Formal walking meditation
is just one step away from awareness during daily life
activities, so I love the utilitarian aspect of it.
I walk fast, I walk in the woods, I stop, I squat down,
I stand still, I stare off into space
what I rarely do,
though, is pay attention to my feet. I do breath-counting
1-10, starting over when I get lost, or I notice the
breath at the mouth and nostrils, or I play with putting
the locus of awareness outside the body, and watching as
from above; I love walking meditation.
Here is just one creative way to do it, inspired by a
Shinzen Young technique that Shinzen in turn attributes
Walking with expanding and contracting energy
Set aside some time to walk without distraction. Decide
in advance how much time to spend on this session and do
what I call the "mental mezuzah;" imagine touching the
mezuzah and saying, "for this period of time, I'm leaving
all of my planning and worries with you. I'll pick them up
on the way out." This conscious commitment, for a finite
period of time, is the key to remaining relatively
undistracted during the session. Without it, the mind
worries that all of the important things that need to be
done will never get done, leading to catastrophe. So you
make a bargain with your "thinker;" you promise that you'll
get back to those important things, but for this 15 or
30 minute period, we're going to let go of all that and
just be present. It's a mini-vacation.
The walking can be done outside, preferably when few people
are around, or it can be done in your own living room. You
just need 15 feet or so to pace back and forth. Walk at
whatever speed is comfortable for you. Stop and start whenever
you feel like it. Follow your gut, there are no rules.
Imagine an energy field around your body, something like a
magnetic field or a cocoon. Don't worry if it isn't clearly
Notice that in any given moment, the energy seems to be
either expanding or contracting. It's either moving outward infinitely toward the ends of the universe, or it's pulling
back into the core of your body. If it's expanding, gently
and silently note to yourself, "out." If it's contracting,
gently note to yourself, "in." At first it will seem subtle,
as though you are imagining it. Later, it will be obvious
and undeniable. Don't rush. If you feel yourself tensing up,
remember to breathe, and relax the tension.
Expect nothing. See what happens.
(Revised, March 2011)