Jundo spoke about walking meditation once, but I’d like to share a practice I do regularly (though perhaps not as often as I would like). I guess I can call it “just walking”.
I live in the country, and have the advantage of being near several narrow (one-lane) roads in the mountains. Alas, the road in front of my house is steep, and I have back problems, so I drive about a half-mile up the mountain to a place where the road is relatively flat, with some mild up-and-down inclines, and enough curves to make it interesting.
So I go there and “just walk” for 20-30 minutes, most days when weather permits (not too hot, not too cold, not too windy, especially). For me, just walking is walking along this road, one way, then turning back to where I parked my car. I walk neither slowly nor quickly, but try to regulate my steps to my breathing; I find that gives me a good rhythm. This morning, I was walking at four steps per breath. Since, when I am just walking my breathing becomes slow and deep, that’s not very fast.
I look down at the road, about 5-10 feet in front of me, paying little attention to what I see. I walk, focusing on my breathing, on my steps, and allowing myself to take in the sounds around me (a small irrigation canal on one side of the road gurgles pleasantly, and crickets and cicadas in the fields sing their songs). I keep walking, sometimes looking up at the beautiful surroundings (though after seven years living here, I’ve gotten used to them), but basically do zazen as I walk.
To me, this is different from walking meditation as I’ve often read it described. It is usually described as a slow, almost artificial type of walking, or walking over a short space, back and forth. I try and make my walks into “normal” walking; that is, not too slow, not too fast. I don’t try to “do” walking meditation; I just walk, integrating much of what I have learned about just sitting.
Interestingly, I have always liked walking. When I was a teenager, growing up in Queens, New York, I would walk long distances to and from friends houses. Often at night, I would walk a few miles to get home in the silence and relative darkness. I appreciated these moments, and probably, at the time, I was already doing some sort of “just walking”. While I had a goal, I enjoyed the process rather than the product of my walks.
So, I just wanted to share this practice. Jundo has told us how zazen has to be more than simply sitting; this is one way I try to expand my practice.