When we think of mindfulness practice, we often assume it to be some form of seated practice. This is a real misunderstanding of the purpose and value of our practice. If we want to dive into the depths of our experience, then we have to recognize it is more like a buffet than a sit-down dinner. Mindful living strives to expose us to the deepest and richest experience of our lives - seated walking, happy, sad. We can’t choose only the sweet parts. That kind of preferential narrow-mindedness is what keeps us stuck in the usual and the unsatisfying.
We humans are homo ambulans, the walking species. We are fundamentally designed for movement. Although this is declining in present culture (much to the peril of our physical and mental health), we live most of our lives on the move. One foot in front of the other. This means that, if we want to experience our lives, we will experience it in motion. This brings us to walking practice.
As with any mindfulness practice, we have the formal and the informal. The formal is the careful and precise walking we do in our indoor practice space. It uses a refined posture and a deliberately slow pace. When we practice our body in motion, we enter that full experience of dynamic balance, shifting from centred points, from foot to foot. Informally, we bring that same spirit of active and dynamic inquiry to walking outdoors. It can be the Sunday morning stroll, a hike in the woods or the walk home from work, along urban streets. I am learning it can even be brought into the rigors of a speed-walking regimen.
Mindful living is not any single practice or posture, its a how we engage with the ever-changing kaleidoscope of our lives. We sometimes call our practice sessions "walk-sit-walk-sit", because this is how we meet ourselves in every day of our lives.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu