Walking meditation for advanced practitioners: gaining insights

Once you get familiar with the basic technique of walking meditation, you will be able to keep the mind focused on the movement of your legs. This might take a few days or a few months depending on your commitment. Then you can move forward to the next level of walking meditation.

In this article, I have briefly discussed how you can practice walking meditation at an advanced level.

Where can you practice walking meditation at an advanced level?

In most of the meditation centers students are advised on how to practice walking meditation at an advanced level. Beginners are also asked to follow walking meditation to complement sitting meditation. Sitting for long hours can affect the meditator physically. Therefore, sitting meditation followed by walking meditation allows the meditator to balance his physical wellness.

Who is an advanced practitioner of walking meditation?

An advanced practitioner is someone who uses conscious walking as a meditative tool. His main purpose of practising walking meditation is to develop concentration as well as insight.

When the meditator gains the ability to keep his mind on the dynamics of walking, he can further develop the mind to obtain the insight to understand the truth of life.

To reach at that stage, a beginner should practice over a period of time ardently after learning the proper technique.

Sitting meditation vs. walking meditation

In sitting meditation, the yogi will focus on one particular object such as on his breath, the elements of the body etc. The body posture should be still and change at a minimum level. Therefore, the yogi is supposed to gain concentration through stillness.

On the other hand, in walking meditation, the yogi will move his feet. He focuses on different stages of walking such as lifting his leg, moving forward, and placing on the ground. Simultaneously, he should be watchful not letting his mind wander away.

Thus, gaining concentration while walking is not easy and most of the yogis prefer sitting meditation over walking meditation.

Some meditation centres advise yogis to do walking meditation followed by sitting meditation. This is very beneficial if you go for a long meditation treat.

Concentration power

The concentration you gain through walking meditation remains for a long period of time because the concentration needs to be gained when your body is moving. Therefore, it needs time and effort to obtain concentration in walking meditation.   

Since you endeavored to get the calmness, it helps you in sitting meditation.

What are the 5 benefits of walking meditation?

The Buddha mentioned 5 benefits of walking meditation as follows:

  • Develops endurance for walking long distances
  • Helps overcoming drowsiness
  • Improves mental and physical health
  • Helps proper food digestion
  • Develops concentration

How to practice walking meditation at an advanced level?

Once you practice the basic technique of walking meditation, pay attention on the following movements;

  • Lifting one leg and placing on the floor
  • Lifting, moving forward, and placing the foot on the floor
  • Lifting, moving forward, placing the foot on the floor and pressing the foot on the floor

Always remember to repeat the process with the other leg. Also, in each of the above occurrences, make a mental note such as “lifting, moving forward, placing on the floor, and pressing the ground.”

Observe the four elements

Once you are thorough with the above method, you can move forward to observe the four elements of human body.

According to Buddhist scriptures, the four elements are the earth element, water element, fire element, and air element.  Before observing the four elements, one needs to understand the characteristics of each element and different sensations generated while walking.

What are the characteristics of the four elements manifested in walking?

  • Lifting foot: When we lift foot, we feel lightness. The dominant element here is the fire element. The fire element makes something lighter. Also the air element can be observed in lifting foot.
  • Moving forward: With the motion of the foot, the practitioner observes the air element. Pushing or moving is done by the air element.
  • Placing the foot on the ground: As you descend foot on the ground, you feel heaviness. Heaviness is a characteristic of the water element.
  • Pressing on the ground: Here, one feels hardness or softness which is a characteristic of the earth element

How to understand mind and matter in walking meditation?

Matter: When you practice continuously, you will understand the four elements generated in walking meditation. According to Buddhist texts, this is named “matter.”

Mind: Simultaneously, you will also understand the mind which is aware of the four elements. In every moment of the walking meditation the physical action is done by matter and the awareness is done by the mind.

It is not “you are walking.” It is a process that happens as a result of mind and matter.

How to understand “change” or “impermanence” in walking meditation?

There is no single action called walking. 

If you need to walk from one place to another, the process of lifting, moving forward, placing, and pressing on the ground should happen continuously.

If one does not lift the foot, he cannot move it forward. If it is not moved forward, he cannot place it on the ground. In other words, lightness, pushing nature, heaviness, and hardness need to generate continuously for walking.

You will understand that one element appears and disappears quickly and the other element appears disappears as well. Therefore the main characteristic indicated in walking is “changing.”

In Buddhist texts, this is called impermanence. Ultimately, the meditator understands there is no single action called walking and it is a sequence of arising primary elements one at a time.

How to understand intention in walking meditation?

In walking meditation, you lift the foot because of your intention to do so. Also you move it forward as a result of your intention. Without intention, you cannot walk from one place to another. As you progress in walking meditation, you will realize intention plays a key role in walking.

Final thoughts

As an advanced practitioner, you have realized the benefits of walking meditation. I hope you will be able to make the everyday act of walking into a meaningful mind awakening process.

Photo by Sébastien Goldberg on Unsplash


Rathsara (Sara) is an attorney-at-law who holds a Diploma in Buddhist Studies in ITBMU. She has engaged in community service in Sri Lanka and the United States helping many individuals. She is interested in reading, writing, and researching areas related to mindfulness. Inspired by spiritually developed individuals around the globe, Rathsara is keen to learn and practice mind-developing techniques. In the meantime, she would like to share her experience and knowledge for the well-being of others.

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