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Walking meditation and its benefits

Talks given at Sravasti Abbey in 2002, and at the "Planting the Seeds to Cultivate Compassion" retreat on May 28, 2007.

Part one

  • The three phases of walking
  • Visualizing and meditating on Buddha Shakyamuni

Walking meditation 01 (download)

Part two

Walking meditation 02 (download)

Excerpt from part two

Each Buddhist tradition has different ways of doing [walking meditation]. I’ll explain to you each one in some detail.

  1. Meditation walking at a normal pace. You can imagine Chenrezig at your heart, inside your body or Chenrezig on your head. Those people who have taken the Chenrezig initiation can do the self-generation . As you walk around then say the mantra om mani padme hum and then imagine the light flowing from Chenrezig’s heart going out into the environment and touching all the sentient beings and freeing them from all the sufferings and their causes, afflictions and karma. Start with the beings in the area around you and then spread out to your city and then to your country and gradually to the universe.
  2. Meditation walking at a normal pace. Offer all the beautiful things that you see around you to all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas. This helps you with the practice of generosity. Then you can also offer all of the beautiful things to the sentient beings that are suffering with different situations such as people in prisons and in hospitals.
  3. Walking slower than normal between two points back and forth. Observe the body while you are walking. Be aware of your gait, slowing down a little bit and be focused on all the parts of the body and how they are co-dependent in the three different phases of the stepping, lifting, swinging and placing. When you get very fairly focused on what is happening in every step, fining tuning even more every single part of your body during the gait, you become more aware as you are walking. This is very good for slowing down your mind before beginning any meditation. You must align your breathing with your walking. When you pay attention to the process of walking and how your steps are and how your breathing is it helps to settle the mind in a very beautiful way. Breathing and walking coincide in a very different way than when you are in a hurry.
  4. Quick walk. In the Zen tradition, they walk in circles. Thoughts keep going around in our minds whenever we think about the past or the future. We are not here in the present. It is a mind of attachment; we are wasting our time ruminating about things. It is interesting how people’s minds work.
Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.