Walking meditation

Walking meditation January 8, 2013

Birds on a pond, Queens Park, Glasgow Dec 2012

One of my key practices is the walking meditation. I go out alone and walk wherever my feet take me. Sometimes it’s a known path. Sometimes I may follow a walking route that I’ve found on the map. Usually, I just step outside and start walking, and if a street or path catches my eye — perhaps a corner I’ve never turned onto before, or one I haven’t walked on lately — I see where it takes me.

The walking meditation is not completely unlike a sitting meditation. It takes a few moments to get your mind into the right state, and sometimes you pop out of that meditative state and have to work your way back. Breathing is the key. As I begin my walk, I concentrate on breathing deeply from the belly. If I find that my breathing gets shallow, or my shoulders start to move up and down with each breath, I focus more intently on the feel of pushing my belly out on each in-breath. This pulls the diaphragm down and pulls air into the bottom of my lungs. Once I’m breathing correctly, it doesn’t take long to feel quiet and connected.

As I walk, I allow myself to become aware of all the sensations that come to me. I become aware of what is touching my skin. (Cold air? Warm air? A coat?) I become aware of the ground beneath my feet. (Cement? Asphalt? Grass?) I listen to the sounds around me. (Cars? People? Birds?) Gradually, I expand my awareness beyond the small sphere around my body. I become more aware of fainter sounds. I begin to see more things in my peripheral vision. I catch more details in everything around me.

Once I’ve found myself in the right state of quiet awareness, I may either stay that way for the whole walk, or I may use that state to explore some question. If I am struggling with something in my life, I may use this state to reach out and ask the fae something. Having asked the question, out loud or in my head, I trust the walk and the expanded awareness to help me “hear” the answer. Other times, I might explore an idea from folklore as a magickal concept. One of my favorites of these is the idea of magickal bridges, an idea I play with often in this meditative state.

As I walk toward a bridge I’ll think to myself that there is a guardian at that bridge or that beyond the bridge is another world. Step up onto the bridge and I am between the two worlds. Stand in the middle, especially over flowing water, and I can see things in both “real life” and the “magickal realms” from a special vantage point. On the bridge I am neither here nor there, but I can see and sense both places. Once I’ve walked over the bridge, I am in a new and magickal space. When I walk back over the bridge to return home, I am able to bring the lessons of the other world back into my ordinary life. These sorts of metaphors work beautifully in meditation. It’s just good “headology” as Terry Pratchett’s beloved character Granny Weatherwax would explain.

These walks seem to always bring me a sense of great awe. The things that I notice when I open myself up like this never cease to amaze me. The fact that I can find real answers to real problems in my life through the benefits of wakeful dreaming is one thing. The fact that Spirit continually surprises me with coincidences and correspondences far beyond expectation is something completely different. This truly is a keystone practice for developing my relationship with Spirit, and Spirit is kind enough to meet me on the road each day.

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