10. If You Want to Move, Try Walking Meditation

In Zen, walking meditation (kinhin) is the counterpart to sitting meditation (za-zen). It is meditation on the move. Walking meditation is different from sitting meditation because you have to be thinking about what you’re doing so that you don’t wander into traffic or bump into a tree. On the other hand, it isn’t really so different, because in sitting meditation, you become acutely aware of your surroundings.

Walking meditation is excellent as an alternative to sitting meditation. Some people like to sit for most of their meditation session but then spend the last few minutes in walking meditation, and for some, who practice sitting meditation for longer periods of time, walking meditation gets the body moving periodically without breaking the meditative flow.

11. Practice Walking Meditation

You can do walking meditation outside or around the room. You should have a prepared path in mind so that you don’t spend time thinking about where to go during the meditation. Begin by spending a moment focusing and breathing, to center and prepare yourself. Then—taking slow, deliberate steps—walk. As you walk, notice how your breath feels. Notice how your limbs move, how your feet feel, how your hands and arms hang, the position of your torso, your neck, your head. Once you feel you’ve observed yourself well, begin to observe the environment around you as you walk. Don’t let it engage you. If you catch your mind wandering, gently bring your thoughts back to your breathing.

12. For How Long and How Often?

Start with five minutes and add two minutes every week until you’re up to fifteen to thirty minutes of daily walking meditation. Or, alternate walking meditation with another form of meditation every other day. Or, once you are up to fifteen to thirty minutes of daily meditation, spend the first or last five to ten minutes of each session in walking meditation.

13. Learn about Yoga Meditation

Yoga, practiced in India for thousands of years, even before Hinduism arose, may be the oldest of all meditation traditions. While hatha yoga, the yoga most known to people in the West, focuses on postures and exercises, these are designed to get that troublesomely twitchy and unfocused body under control, so that meditation can be more easily practiced. While yoga has various sects that believe slightly different things and orient their meditation and other techniques toward somewhat different directions, many forms of yoga have certain things in common.

14. Channels and Wheels

Yoga practitioners believe that throughout the body, channels of energy run up and down. Along these energy channels are chakras (“wheels of light”), or spinning energy centers. Chakras are focal points for energy in the body and represent different organs in the body, different colors, and different aspects of the personality and life force.

15. How Kundalini Energy Works

People believe that deep at the base of the spine is the seat of kundalini energy, sometimes called “serpent energy” or “serpent power” and likened to a coiled serpent waiting at the base of the spine to be awakened. Kundalini energy is thought to be a powerful force that, through the proper practice of postures, breathing, and meditation, can be activated or awakened. As kundalini energy awakes, it rises through the body, activating each of the chakras in turn until it reaches the seventh chakra at the crown of the head, resulting in an intense physical experience that actually, it is said, physically restructures the body.

16. Prepare for Yoga Meditation

To practice yoga meditation, first choose a quiet, comfortable, warm place where you are unlikely to experience distractions. If possible, turn off any sources of noise and anything that emits electricity. Take off any jewelry, especially anything metal. Electrical currents, metal, and anything encircling a body part can disrupt the flow of energy. Wear something comfortable. Take off your shoes but keep your socks on if you think your feet will get cold.

17. Practice Yoga Meditation

Sit cross-legged, or in the half lotus position, with one foot placed, sole facing up, on the opposite thigh. Next, put your right hand, palm up, on your right knee and your left hand, palm up, on your left knee. You can leave your fingers open or make a circle with each index finger and thumb or middle finger and thumb. Rock back and forth and side to side on your sitting bones to find a nice, stable, center position. Imagine the crown of your head being lifted up as the tip of your tailbone sinks down, lengthening the spine and straightening the posture. Next, simply begin to notice your breath as it flows in and out. Inhale and exhale through your nose, or inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Once you feel relaxed, think or say a syllable, word, or phrase, called a mantra. The traditional mantra of yoga meditation is the sound/word “Om.” Say it slowly on the exhale of the breath. Let the “M” resonate through your body.

18. Enjoy Shavasana

Shavasana, or the corpse pose, is actually a yoga asana, or exercise. To practice shavasana, find a comfortable spot on the floor and lie on a mat. Lie on your back with your ankles about two feet apart and legs flat on the floor, your arms flat and away from your body, your palms facing up. Let your feet fall open. Now, begin to relax as you breathe in and out through your nose. As you breathe, concentrate on fully relaxing your body: bones, joints, muscles, everything. Let it all sink comfortably down toward the floor. Stay in this position for five minutes to start, and work up to fifteen or twenty minutes.

19. Learn about Breathing Meditation

Breathing meditation is part zazen and part pranayama, which are the breathing techniques associated with yoga. In zazen, you watch your breath without judging, following it in and out. In pranayama, you control the length and character of the inhalation and exhalation. Breathing constantly infuses our body with oxygen and, according to some traditions, life-force energy.

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