Traditionally in New York on April 13 there is a 12 hour walk. Started by Sri Chinmoy many years ago, competitors walk around a small loop (usually a mile or 1.6km) and see how far they can walk in the designated time. Sri Chinmoy loved walking. He wrote many stories and anecdotes about his experiences while doing this. He always meditated while he was moving and encouraged us to do the same. The 12 hour walk, although a race, offered us the chance to practise this moving meditation technique and to transcend ourselves and achievements.
Some people really go for it in the 12 hour race, race walking for the entire period and walking over 100 kilometers. Others are a little slower and you just try and do your best. One thing everyone does is to try to meditate and walk at the same time. It is actually very easy if you have learnt the art of meditation. Meditation has movement. Not physical movement but inner direction. You get more peace or more energy and so forth as you meditate. It isn’t a static thing. Once you have learnt it in a practical setting, indoors in front of your shrine, you can apply it to many situations in your outer life including walking. Many people consciously or unconsciously meditate while walking. You finish and you feel your minds clearer, you body fitter. You feel great.
Members of the Sri Chinmoy Centre tried a 12 hour walk this April 13th. Unable to travel we were not in New York of course but were still inspired to try. We had a designated loop of 2 km (although I did wander off occasionally for a coffee or different scenery.) Personally I had a really nice walking meditation. I didn’t want to stop, even after 12 hours. All the walkers utilised mantra, prayer and singing a lot. We also meditated in silence. Looking at nature, the vast skyline, the Swan River, nice flowers and the people. Everyone had some delicious snacks to give some extra joy and to break it up a bit. I lasted the 12 hours, did 62 kilometers but mainly felt extremely grateful rather than tired at the end.
The Art of Meditation and Walking
So how do you walk and meditate? Below is a list of hints and ideas. Chose one idea or incorporate them all, easy if your out for long enough!
- Prepare: make sure you meditate before you go out. This will put you in the right consciousness.
- Pick some things to meditate on. For example the sky. Identify with the clarity or vastness of the sky above. Don’t let any intruding thoughts come. Feel these good qualities in the heart and allow them to expand. Other things might be the sun, soaring birds, your breath, flowers, playing children…anything that inspires you.
- Mantras. Chose something that you can chant outwardly or inwardly easily. I will often chose three words such as Supreme, Gratitude, Aum or something like that. As you get into a rhythm it will integrate with your breathing spontaneously.
- Singing. You can use your favourite song if it gives you some energy or joy. I prefer something deeper and just sing some of Sri Chinmoy’s mantric songs. They were really helpful.
- Music. I use this when needed as I generally prefer not to have earphones in during exercise. Saying that in the last 3 hours it was very beneficial, again I use songs by Sri Chinmoy, performed by him or his students 99% of the time. I know it is conducive to meditation.
- Chose a quality to focus on. Maybe it is gratitude, good will, love, peace. Breath it in as you walk.
- Pick your times. Generally it is easier to meditate in the morning or evening. It is quieter and nature will help you.
Good luck with your walking meditation. Remember to allow your mind to be a bit more silent and your heart to expand and you will have success!
The Sri Chinmoy Centre in Perth offers free meditation classes at a variety of locations which will restart soon as the situation improves. Alternatively keep visiting the website to learn how to meditate at home. There will be more meditation content posted in the coming days on how to meditate at home. Walking meditations can be part of your regular program!