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Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Walking Meditation Helps You Live Spontaneously

Jon Kabat-Zinn’s Walking Meditation Helps You Live Spontaneously

Simply walking, just like eating raisins, can be a way to practice mindfulness and presence. The average person walks 2 to 5 miles a day. Yet how often are we unconscious while walking? We often zone out when we walk, thinking about our destination, dreams, and past conversations. Walking meditation means simply being aware of our walking. Walking meditation opens us up to the world around us, which allows us to live spontaneously.
In Mindfulness Meditation Workshop, Jon Kabat-Zinn guides us through the simple practice of walking with awareness.

Now walking meditation. Walking meditation is the same thing as walking only you know that you are walking and sometimes it is valuable to slow it down at first so that you can really pay attention to the aspects of it. So one way to do it is to just become aware of the impulse to lift, say, the left leg and to move the foot out in front of you and to feel it as you place it down on the floor, heel, and then the rest of the foot. That is a lifting, a moving, and a placing. Then the weight shifts over the forward foot and then there is a lifting, moving, and the placing of the right foot and the shifting of the weight and you move forward. Then the lifting, moving, placing, of the left foot. And do not take giant steps or stylize this. This could be very small steps since you are not going anywhere. Then the lifting, moving, and placing. So go for three squares, turn around, and stand where you are before you turn around, breath a few times, and then slowly, mindfully, turning. Then just going back.
Now you can do this as slowly as you like. The lifting, the moving, and the placing could be real slow, and I suggest you do it really slowly. You don’t have to look at your foot. You can know where your foot is and you should just let your gaze fall on the back of the person in front of you or on the wall or something. Just be with the lifting, moving, placing. This is walking by the way, so just experiencing walking. When you come to the end of your lane, or your three squares, just stopping and doing what we call standing meditation, which is just standing but being aware of standing and breathing. Be aware of the impulse to turn. You never turned before there was an impulse, so picking up on the impulse, just as when we swallowed the raisin, you don’t swallow it before there is an impulse to swallow. Then turning knowing how you are turning, standing, facing the other way. Then again walking your three squares.

Jon Kabat-Zinn is one of the foremost instructors of mindfulness meditation in this country. He is a Professor of Medicine at Umass Medical School, and the creator of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, which is now used in over 200 medical centers around the world. Kabat-Zinn has a deep interest in harmonizing science and spirituality.
Check out the rest of the Mindfulness Meditation Workshop lecture here, and other quality Kabat-Zinn lectures and guided meditations here.

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This original version of this article was published on November 4, 2012, on BetterListen.
—Matt Rosenblum May 29, 2016

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