WALKING III - WALKING AND SOUND
Walking is a naturally rhythmic activity. Once you find your pace you will notice that cadence, that’s called the beats per minute (BPM). We can use this cadence to layer the practice we are doing. We can incorporate some auditory input at that BPM which will reinforce our walking practice and make it more stable and deep. The typical auditory methods we have are counting and recitations.
Counting is the simplest and it can be counting steps or breaths. When you are walking, if it is slower in pace, you can synchronize your step (usually alternate steps, as in every left step) with the breath. This would mean each time you plant the left heel and move forward, you do it with an out breath. In our temple practice, we may do this kind of slow pace walking and use the moktak (wooden drum) to maintain that cadence. This works well with a slow indoor pace, but becomes awkward as we increase the pace and BPM.
If the pace is faster, you can count the steps in between out-breaths. This would mean you count the left foot/out breath as 1, then count the subsequent steps to the next out breath. This might mean you count 1-2-3-4-5 steps (depending on your pace) and then another out breath and begin again. This kind of step/breath counting is a very supportive addition to outdoor walking which maintains your concentration. This is one of the simplest ways of layering breath, step and cadence.
Next week we’ll look at using recited phrases while walking.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu