By Bob Murray, PhD and
Alicia Fortinberry, MS
We have used Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement (ATM) concepts to create a variation on a traditional Buddhist walking meditation that harnessed the advantages of meditation, body awareness, and connection to nature.
This meditation is an excellent exercise to incorporate into your walking or relaxation routine, Repatterning Movement program or every-day spiritual practice. Great to boost both mood and self-awareness.
The walking we are about to do should, ideally, be on a natural, uneven surface. A park, forest or beach are perfect. Try to find a place or a time when there is relative quiet or at least little traffic or construction noise. Humans were not made to live with machines, nor were our feet made to walk on concrete.
Before you begin your walk, stand still.
- Close your eyes. Take in the sounds that are around you. Be aware of your balance.
- Don't try to stand in any particular way, just let your skeleton and your muscles hold you comfortably. Allow your arms to fall down by your side and let your head sink onto your chest.
- Try to be aware of nothing external except the sounds that come to you. Attempt to identify each sound: is it high or low, shrill or mellow, pleasing or grating. Each sound repeats in a different rhythm. Despite the apparent randomness of natural sound there is, in fact, an underlying order to it. There is a pattern in the way birds repeat their calls and echo each other. There is an underlying cadence in the sound of a brook, or a waterfall or the waves on a beach. There is a rhythm in the sound of wind through trees or a field of wheat or tall grass.
- A teacher of ours once said that God talks to you all the time through everything. While you are standing there waiting to begin your walking meditation you might like to imagine that you are listening to the divine, to the voices of God.
You are now ready to begin.
- Unlike an aerobic walk, this is a slow, ordinary series of steps based on awareness of your feet as they touch the ground.
- Notice the variation in the ground: subtle changes in the level you walk over, in the texture of the surface, in the way your feet roll over stones or roots. Awareness comes as you notice more and more differences in the same path.
- You can walk in a circle or in a line. You can go over the same stretch of ground many times--just pacing ten or fifteen steps back and forth--or you can walk for about five minutes before turning back.
- Your eyes should be lowered to the ground, just a few steps ahead.
- While walking, give attention to the contact of each foot as it touches the surface.
- When other things arise in your mind, simply notice what took your attention and gently return your focus to your walking.
- Towards the end of the meditation, ask yourself what differences you feel in your body and the way you walk from when you started and from when you last did this.
Try this for twenty minutes daily or even every few days; it can result in a deep awareness.
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About the Authors
Dr Bob Murray is a widely published psychologist and expert on emotional health and optimal relationships. Alicia Fortinberry is a psychotherapist, health writer and executive coach. Together they are the founders of the highly successful Uplift Program, and authors of Raising an Optimistic Child (McGraw-Hill, 2006) and Creating Optimism (McGraw-Hill, 2004).
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