Our theme for October is walking practice. Our monthly workshop will celebrate Walk-tober, an international event promoting the many benefits of walking. In this first talk, I want to look at the importance of posture and balance.
It might seem that there is a huge difference between the most common form of meditation, sitting practice, and various walking forms. However, the principles are actually similar. Whatever form of meditation or mindfulness practice we employ, several things are key, no matter the form:
- groundedness; this is our solid connection with the earth, be that sitting on a mat or a chair or standing on our feet; posture is the means of ensuring this;
- open awareness; this is our willingness to let go of judgements and preferences, to release distractions, so we can remain available to experience what is happening in our practice and to open to it over and over;
- attention to breath; all practice forms use the breath as the anchor;
- dynamic balance; regardless of the form, we never become rigid or frozen; there will be times of surprising stillness, but we also recognize that, as breathing humans, we will always experience a constant re-balancing of our posture.
Walking practices are exceptional in building these capacities in our practice.
- groundedness - unlike sitting practices where our connection to the earth and physical stability may be taken for granted, in walking we are required to establish a firm connection through each step we take;
- open awareness - unlike sitting practices, where there is normally little variation in the physical context, and the chief distractions are mental, when we walk we must attend to the whole physical space of our walking or risk stumbling or some other physical mistake;
- attention to breath - in sitting, breath can slip into the background or otherwise over-taken by passing mind states; when we walk, as with any physical activity, it is difficult to do it smoothly if we aren’t coordinating breath and step;
- dynamic balance - walking is by its form a balancing act, we are continuously shifting our balance from foot to foot; it calls us to establish balance over and over again
These are true no matter what walking practice you engage with. Over this month we will have opportunities to explore this directly in our practice.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu