by contemplativeinquiry


“For mother, walking was much more than a physical exercise, it was a meditation.  Touching the earth, being connected to the soil and taking every step consciously and mindfully, was supremely conducive to contemplation.

“’Our Lord Mahavir, the great prophet of the Jain tradition, attained enlightenment while walking.  This was dynamic meditation.  Mahavir was meditating on self and world simultaneously, whereas in sitting meditation one is much more likely to focus on the self alone.’”

Satish Kumar You are, therefore I AM: a declaration of dependence.

This is the best summary I know of outdoor walking meditation.  Two things strike me immediately.  The first is that Satish Kumar’s mother was not setting up special walks for the purpose of meditation.  She walked a good deal in the course of the day and could be meditative in her walking. The second is a plain emphasis on mindfulness both to self and world and their interdependence.  It is less a practice than a way of life, and something to drop into consciously on any occasion.

It is something of a truism to say that the value of formal practice is twofold: firstly the experience for its own sake and second the ability to extend a meditative awareness into the rest of life.  When I go out walking I sometimes have a conscious agenda of being aware of my surroundings, surrendering a sense to and within them, which is a half-way house between formal practice and a still ‘normal’ everyday possession by the monkey mind.  At other times I slipping into an easy ‘just being’ state and experiencing the nourishment that’s in it.

Indoor walking meditation is a valuable experience for me, yet it continues to have a feeling-tone of being an exercise, though less so than formerly.  Outdoor walking meditation has a naturalness and freedom to it – and may be even better without the ‘meditative’ or ‘contemplative’ label being applied.  Just experiencing the interwoven ‘inner’ and ‘outer’ stimuli and their underlying oneness.