Walking and Yoga

We should all enjoy a good walk, incorporating the qualities of mindfulness and gentleness.

Excerpted from Running with the Mind of MeditationBy Sakyong Mipham

 Even though  there is a big difference between walking and running, many of the principles I have mentioned also apply to walking, probably the best of all exercises. It is low-impact, promotes circulation, and helps clear the mind. We should all enjoy a good walk, incorporating the qualities of mindfulness and gentleness.

Walking is traditionally used as a meditative discipline be- cause it is slow enough that  one can easily focus. It is often used to break up periods of sitting. The walking meditation I describe here is also a walking yoga, with the right hand placed over the left fist just beneath the solar plexus. The technique consists of walking slowly and gently, taking short steps, and focusing on the placement of one foot heel to toe, the shift- ing of the weight, and then the placement of the other foot. There is a feeling of balance and harmony with the movement of the legs and feet as you bring mindfulness to your body. This walking meditation is a way to integrate the mind and body by slowing the mind down. It creates an excellent bridge between meditation and running.

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In Tibet  and other parts of the world, taking long walks as a pilgrimage from one sacred spot to another is considered a path to great spiritual merit. Propelled by the right motivation and attitude,  these long walks can become a way to cleanse the body of negative karma and engender the mind with vir- tue. I have gone on walking pilgrimages to various holy sites, walking all day long. Such walks provide excellent exercise while also enriching  the  mind.  I also enjoy going on treks and hikes.

My wife and I often go for walks together. In fact, I may run faster than she does, but she is a much better walker. It is a wonderful way to be with each other. We do not necessarily need to talk. Walking can be a way of clearing one’s mind as well as contemplating.

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Sakyong Mipham
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