Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

General discussion of issues related to Theravada Meditation, e.g. meditation postures, developing a regular sitting practice, skillfully relating to difficulties and hindrances, etc.

Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby divya » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:37 am

Hi everyone,

I am new to this site and have been delighted to read through many of the wonderfully thoughtful and insightful discussions here. I am fairly new to Theravadan Buddhism but have been practicing meditation daily for several months. Although I'm young - 25 - I have back pain due to degeneration of my discs caused by running, dancing, and general hyper-flexibility, so sitting of any kind flares up my pain. I do a lot of strengthening and yoga and am confident at some point in the future I will be able to sit without intense pain. For now I've tried working in various ways with the pain while sitting but recently have taken up walking meditation, twice a day for 30 minutes, which I find much more suitable for my current physical condition. I am wondering if there are any good instructions out there for walking meditation, and what the potential limits and drawbacks are of walking vs. sitting. Is it possible to continue to deepen one's practice only with walking? I am near San Diego, CA and wonder if a visit to Ajahn Geoff's monastery might be beneficial to receive some guidance. I've never visited a Theravadan monastery before.

Thanks very much for any comments.

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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby Anagarika » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:50 am

I posted this the other day on a separate topic; maybe this will be helpful to you, Divya :

Re: AN 5.29: Cankama Sutta — Walking

Postby BuddhaSoup » Sun Jan 20, 2013 11:34 pm

I may be slightly off topic but can't resist mentioning a fine book that I am reading now. It's focus is on walking meditation, and it goes inside the sutta based instructions, and goes outside the suttas to discuss walking meditation in its many practice forms. The author is a Tendai priest, who also trained earlier in his life in Sri Lanka. It's a good read for anyone with an interest in walking meditation:

http://walklikeamountain.blogspot.com/
Last edited by Anagarika on Fri Jan 25, 2013 1:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:53 am

I recently happened upon this nice article - I haven't read it all yet, but it looks pretty good.

"Walking Meditation - Three Expositions on Walking Meditation"

http://www.bps.lk/olib/wh/wh464-p.html# ... nPractices
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby karunametta » Thu Jan 24, 2013 4:54 am

As far as instruction goes, here are some articles from the Thai forest tradition (the only instructions I could easily find):

Ajahn Mun: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books/Ajahn_ ... tation.htm
Ajahn Buddhadasa: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books10/Bhik ... ide%20.htm
Ajahn Nyanadhammo: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books3/Ajahn ... tation.pdf
Ajahn Liem: http://www.dhammatalks.net/Books11/Luan ... reness.pdf
Ajahn Brahm: (about halfway down the page) http://mettarefuge.wordpress.com/2010/0 ... editation/

You can definitely continue to develop your practice doing only walking meditation. IMO, any meditation is better than no meditation. The only drawbacks I can think of would be slower progress or inability to enter jhanas (i believe?). I wouldn't worry about these, you can develop a great practice with walking meditation.

I would also highly recommend you give Ajahn Geoffrey and his monastery a visit. I also believe he is available for phone calls on Tuesdays at 6pm PST. If that's incorrect, someone please correct me!
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Jan 24, 2013 8:34 am

By practising walking meditation alone one could gain the final goal. It was after practising walking meditation for the entire night that Venerable Ānanda gained Arahantship. Venerable Moggallāna practised walking meditation relentless for seven days and nights before gaining Arahantship while sitting.

If you alternate 30 minutes of walking meditation with 5 or 10 minutes of sitting (on a chair or whatever if that helps), you will be able to make good progress. Don't forget to practice mindfulness in all other daily activities too — eating, washing and shaving, etc.

The Benefits of Walking Meditation
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 9:34 am

And see this thread:
viewtopic.php?f=25&t=15864

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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby kirk5a » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:32 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:By practising walking meditation alone one could gain the final goal. It was after practising walking meditation for the entire night that Venerable Ānanda gained Arahantship. Venerable Moggallāna practised walking meditation relentless for seven days and nights before gaining Arahantship while sitting.

If you alternate 30 minutes of walking meditation with 5 or 10 minutes of sitting (on a chair or whatever if that helps), you will be able to make good progress. Don't forget to practice mindfulness in all other daily activities too — eating, washing and shaving, etc.

The Benefits of Walking Meditation

Thank you Bhante. This sounds refreshingly radical! (relative to the rather narrow view that practice=sitting, sitting and more sitting). I wonder if anyone runs a retreat like that?
"When one thing is practiced & pursued, ignorance is abandoned, clear knowing arises, the conceit 'I am' is abandoned, latent tendencies are uprooted, fetters are abandoned. Which one thing? Mindfulness immersed in the body." -AN 1.230
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby mikenz66 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:39 pm

The Mahasi-style retreats I am aware of are like that, so it's hardly a new or radical idea... I've always been instructed to balance my walking and sitting time.

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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby tiltbillings » Thu Jan 24, 2013 6:58 pm

Doing walking practice, one can experience profound concentration and mindfulness. It is a great practice when sleepy, and it allows for considerable variation.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby divya » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:19 am

Hi everyone,

Thank you so, so much for all the wonderfully insightful comments and helpful links. Kirk5a, that is exactly the sort of guide I was looking for. At this point I just need a few general guidelines to get me started since I'm still quite new to this. BuddhaSoup, thanks for the link to the book; I will check it out when I'm looking for further guidance. Bhikkhu Pesala, thank you also for the link and your suggestion to do a brief sitting practice after walking. I tried that this evening and liked it very much, so from now I will sit for 5 minutes after walking.

I have found that walking, a bit more so than sitting even, helps me to maintain mindfulness of daily life activities, though at this point I can't get to states of mind as quiet and concentrated as I was able to when I could sit without pain. I'm glad to hear, though, that one can continue to progress even with walking as the main formal practice.

Karunametta, thank you for those articles. They're extremely helpful. As for visiting Ajahn Geoffrey's monastery, what can I expect if I go there? Since I can't sit without considerable pain -- even in a chair -- is it advisable to go for the day, or should I just go in the evening to speak with Ajahn Geoffrey? I've visited Deer Park but am not sure what to expect at a Theravadin monastery.

Thanks again, everyone.

:anjali:
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby Digity » Fri Jan 25, 2013 5:43 am

I think you should definitely stick to walking mediation. When the time comes and you're able to sit you'll be that much more prepared.
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby polarbuddha101 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:04 am

divya wrote: As for visiting Ajahn Geoffrey's monastery, what can I expect if I go there? Since I can't sit without considerable pain -- even in a chair -- is it advisable to go for the day, or should I just go in the evening to speak with Ajahn Geoffrey? I've visited Deer Park but am not sure what to expect at a Theravadin monastery.

Thanks again, everyone.

:anjali:
Divya


Hello Divya,

Wat Metta (where Ajahn Geoff lives) does have two group chanting and meditation sessions that last about an hour, one at around 5 am and the other at around 7 pm, other than that and work period you will have around 5 hours to find a walking meditation path where you can practice that if you decide to go for the day. I suppose you could speak with Than Geoff and tell him about your condition during question and answer time and see what he recommends and then you could just skip the chanting/meditation sessions at the Sala if you wanted to do that. Here is the schedule at Wat Metta:

Daily Schedule

5:30 ‒ 6:35 am

Morning Chanting and Group Meditation

6:45 ‒ 8:30 am

Morning Chore Period

8:30 am

Alms round at the Guest House

8:45 am

Offering the rest of the food to the monks at the Sala

9:00 am

Morning Chanting (Sundays include taking the Five Precepts)

9:30 am

Potluck meal for the laypeople.

10:00 ‒ 11:00 am

Cleanup Period

11:00 am ‒ 4:00 pm

Each visitor is assigned an individual sitting platform and walking path in the orchard, and is free to structure the time for walking, sitting, and resting as he/she sees fit.

4:00 ‒ 4:30 pm

Questions and Answers with Taan Ajaan Geoff about the Dhamma and meditation practice

4:30 ‒ 6:00 pm

Afternoon Chore Period

7:00 ‒ 8:20 pm

Evening Chanting
Dhamma Talk
Group Meditation

http://watmetta.org/visitor.htm

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"I don't envision a single thing that, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about such suffering & stress as the mind. The mind, when undeveloped & uncultivated, brings about suffering & stress."
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby tiltbillings » Fri Jan 25, 2013 6:08 am

divya wrote:Hi everyone, . . .Divya
Whatever you do, especially if you go to Wat Metta, let us know how it works. That is always of value to us here.
This being is bound to samsara, kamma is his means for going beyond.
SN I, 38.

Ar scáth a chéile a mhaireas na daoine.
People live in one another’s shelter.

"We eat cold eels and think distant thoughts." -- Jack Johnson
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby marc108 » Fri Jan 25, 2013 7:02 am

divya wrote:H I am near San Diego, CA and wonder if a visit to Ajahn Geoff's monastery might be beneficial to receive some guidance. I've never visited a Theravadan monastery before.


If you live near Taan Geoff you should for sure visit and asking him questions. polarbuddhas advice is great, & you could also call and speak to him as well... he could give you advice over the phone then you could go over by yourself and get a walking path. you could also just stand in the back during the sitting/chanting & Dhamma talks.


http://watmetta.org/contact.htm
Telephone: 619-813-8461

The phone is turned off most of the day, but you are welcome to leave a voice-mail. The message inbox is reviewed at the end of each day, and we will return your call upon request. It is often helpful if you specify some times during the next day or two when you will be available to avoid phone tag. If you need to speak to a monk, incoming calls are answered between 5 and 6pm Pacific Time every evening, usually by Ajaan Geoff. If, during the calling hour, you still get the voice-mail recording, it means the phone is in use, so try again in ten minutes."
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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby divya » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:22 am

Thank you, marc and polarbuddha. I tried calling Ajahn Geoff this evening but as he wasn't available, I was advised to call back tomorrow. By the way, I feel a bit silly for asking, but I could use some clarification about the various naming systems in the Theravadin tradition. Why is he also called Thanissaro Bhikkhu, and what it is best to address him as?

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Re: Walking meditation as foundation of formal practice?

Postby Sekha » Mon Jan 28, 2013 3:58 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:By practising walking meditation alone one could gain the final goal.

With all due respect, Bhante, I see no support from the suttas for this claim, and I see a great danger in holding this view in case it is a wrong view. With all due respect, looking closely at the suttas, it seems to me that this is a wrong view.

Samma-samadhi includes the attainment of the fourth jhana, which is impossible to reach by walking. Without developing samma-samadhi as instructed by the Buddha, how could Nibbana be achieved?

Here is a more detailed version of this argument:
1.The Buddha declares that it is impossible to reach the end of suffering without fully understanding (and abandoning) the five aggregates:
SN 22.24
rūpaṃ, bhikkhave, an·abhijānaṃ a·parijānaṃ a·virājayaṃ a·ppajahaṃ abhabbo dukkha·kkhayāya; vedanaṃ an·abhijānaṃ a·parijānaṃ a·virājayaṃ a·ppajahaṃ abhabbo dukkha·kkhayāya; saññaṃ an·abhijānaṃ a·parijānaṃ a·virājayaṃ a·ppajahaṃ abhabbo dukkha·kkhayāya; saṅkhāre an·abhijānaṃ a·parijānaṃ a·virājayaṃ a·ppajahaṃ abhabbo dukkha·kkhayāya; viññāṇaṃ an·abhijānaṃ a·parijānaṃ a·virājayaṃ a·ppajahaṃ abhabbo dukkha·kkhayāya.

Without directly knowing and fully understanding Form, bhikkhus, without getting dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is unable to destroy suffering; without directly knowing and fully understanding Feeling, bhikkhus, without getting dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is unable to destroy suffering; without directly knowing and fully understanding Perception, bhikkhus, without getting dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is unable to destroy suffering; without directly knowing and fully understanding Constructions, bhikkhus, without getting dispassionate towards them and abandoning them, one is unable to destroy suffering; without directly knowing and fully understanding Consciousness, bhikkhus, without getting dispassionate towards it and abandoning it, one is unable to destroy suffering.
http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samy ... 2-024.html


2. The Buddha also states that samadhi is to be developed in order to discern the arising and passing away of the aggregates, which evidently is a component of their "full understanding" (pariññā) as mentioned above:
SN 22.5
samādhiṃ, bhikkhave, bhāvetha; samāhito, bhikkhave, bhikkhu yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti. kiñ·ca yathābhūtaṃ pajānāti? rūpassa samudayañ·ca atthaṅgamañ·ca, vedanāya samudayañ·ca atthaṅgamañ·ca, saññāya samudayañ·ca atthaṅgamañ·ca, saṅkhārānaṃ samudayañ·ca atthaṅgamañ·ca, viññāṇassa samudayañ·ca atthaṅgamañ·ca.

Develop concentration, monks. A concentrated monk discerns in line with what has come into being. And what does he discern in line with what has come into being? The origination & disappearance of Form. The origination & disappearance of Feeling. The origination & disappearance of Perception. The origination & disappearance of Fabrications. The origination & disappearance of Consciousness.
http://www.buddha-vacana.org/sutta/samy ... 2-005.html

Evidently, when the Buddha recommends samadhi, he recommends what he considers as the right samadhi (ie. samma-samadhi, ie. the four jhanas).

So I think this is a strong argument against this view, that I have already seen in some dhamma books and that some bhikkhus who don't seem to wish to apply themselves to samma-samadhi want to hold as right. I do think they should abandon it as soon as possible and for their own safety NOT BROADCAST IT.
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