I have a thirty minutes walk in the morning from the commuter train station to my job. In the afternoons, when I’m on my way home, I always walk through the park to the tube station. This is also a thirty minutes walk. I walk in rain and snow storms, hot summer afternoons and crisp September mornings. There are no buss connections so I have to walk. These walks are my meditation.
I have practiced sitting meditation in different forms, off and on, for more that twenty years. My walking meditation has been going on for nine years now, five days a week.
So, what is the difference between walking to get to work and my walking meditation? There is almost no difference, I think. Just walking and my form of walking meditation is almost the same thing.
I have read about Buddhist walking meditation but my meditation does not have much in common with their much more serious and disciplined exercises. I am mostly lost in thoughts, daydreams, some kind of planning or what I shall say to somebody when we meet. In this sense is my meditation like ordinary walking.
However, after walking two or three hundred yards or so, I usually wake up and realize that I have been lost in thoughts. For a short moment I take in the whole picture, the sky, the clouds, the huge poplars, the woodpeckers, the meadow...This kind of awareness lasts only for a very short time, maybe only a few seconds, and then I am lost in a thought again. I suppose this is not really to wake up, it just feels this way. Probably it’s just a switch from thinking mode to looking mode.
Anyway, I have experimented and tried to maintain or extend these moments of looking but I have not been very successful. Soon I am gone again, lost in thoughts. And then, suddenly, I wake up again, only to be gone again a few moments later. My walking meditation is thus very similar to my sitting meditation.
So, what is the point with my walking meditation? Well, there is not much point with it, I think. It will not lead to enlightenment. It is not an attempt to improve myself or become more relaxed. It is simply something I do because I am interested in who I am, how the mind works and what awareness is.
Despite the fact that my meditation practice is undisciplined and amateurish it has nevertheless given me some important insights. My most important discovery, I think was when I finally understood how little I know and that I mistake my thoughts for truths.
I don’t know what will happen to us when we die. I don’t know why I’m here. I don’t know where I’m heading. I don’t know how the world is working. All my knowledge, spiritual as well as material, is made of thoughts and thoughts come and go, moods come and go, everything comes and goes, like the weather. What is knowledge one day turns out to be a misunderstanding the next.
Life is an incredible mystery. Everything is so unimaginable complex. To hold on tightly to ones opinions and beliefs seems absurd. To be able see this, with my own brain, not just reading about it or hearing about it, is something I have learned from my walking meditation.
However, even if the insight, that thoughts are just thoughts, is an important discovery, it is only the beginning of the awakening process. The habits remain, nicotine addiction, overeating, laziness, ways of reacting…They have to be dealt with in other ways.