Since ancient times, meditation and walking have gone hand in hand. The sages and pilgrims of old used to cover many miles on foot, immersed in silence. Sometimes they used the rhythm of their footsteps to repeat a mantra over and over. Sometimes they also coordinated their breathing with their walking. In this way, they were able to gain tremendous control over their physical bodies. Walking meditation also allows us to absorb more deeply the peace and beauty of nature. We feel that we are part of the cosmic life-energy.
Try this simple exercise:
Choose a park or scenic area and start walking at a comfortable pace. Allow your arms to swing naturally and make sure your shoulders and neck are relaxed.
Now try inhaling for three strides, hold your breath for one stride, exhale for three strides, and then wait for one stride before you repeat this pattern. See if you can maintain this rhythm for a few hundred metres. If you need to adjust the number of strides, that is fine. Each person is different.
It is easier to do this exercise if you are alone. Conversation will only break your concentration. It is also important to fill your lungs when you breathe in.
After practising this exercise for a week or so, you can try saying a sacred word instead of counting your strides. Inwardly chant ‘peace’ with each stride and see if you can keep to the same breathing pattern. You can chant any sacred word that inspires you. Here are a few that we use: joy, love, gratitude, energy and Supreme.