For those who find sitting cross-legged for long hours difficult, walking meditation provides a good option.
I spent many years in the vipassana tradition sitting on the floor, for about twelve hours days, without a backrest letting awareness take its course.
Yes, everything arose and passed and awareness increased but I often wished for an option to the continuous sitting.
‘Bad for cellulite’, was not a reason I could ever volunteer to the teachers but I am sure this and similar thoughts have crossed other meditators minds.
I understood that exercise was not an option –it did not sit in with the meditation cocoon you built around yourself in the ten days of silence.
Many years later I met Ajahn Nyandhammo at a monastery Wat Nanachat near the Thai -Laos border.
I have often written about this time of my life and there is an earlier blog on this in case you have the time.
He was the current abbot and he saw my battle with everything –myself, the tasks the nuns set out for me and my daily meditation.
He suggested I try walking meditation.
There are many forms of walking meditation and there are many books on the subject.
In the Buddhist tradition, Walking meditation is not your daily calming walk by the beach or a walk in the wilderness admiring the wonders of nature.
It is a serious form of meditation that moves you inward .
The task is to eliminate the need to “get somewhere” so it is usually in a limited space and the full focus is on the process of walking.
Some are guided meditations, some are in the form of a circle and some walks are on straight paths.
I had seen a form of walking meditation at Wat Po in Bangkok. Room no 5 at the back of the temple complex has classes in walking meditation. Here you can see ghostly figures in white, in slow motion following strict instructions to step, to turn, and to pause, from a nun or monk. It was too controlled for me.
Nyandhammo an Australian monk, understood my need for independence and suggested I try it myself.
At Wat Nana Chat meditation paths were cut into clearings in the forest but all you need is a narrow stretch of about thirty feet .
Walk barefoot, placing one foot in front of the other, heel almost touching toe, eyes looking a little ahead.
In Buddhism or in any meditative tradition you often take custody of the eyes- withdraw from looking around or marveling at the beauty of nature, but look inward (in this case at a spot six inches ahead of you, as you walk)
This cuts out visual distractions
Walk slowly and you will slow down as you place one foot after the other consciously.
Turn at the end of thirty feet very deliberately. In case your thoughts have drifted by now this brings you back.
Walk back and forth for forty-five minutes. If your attention wanders you will know, as your pace will increase with agitated or wandering thoughts.
Bring it back and start again. Five minutes will seem an eternity when you start but hang in there and work up to forty- five minutes to an hour.
Home is the best place to try it, as public spaces can be very distracting.