The first, and most important, meditation practice for us is Insight Meditation. Simple to learn; difficult to do. There are a number of different ways Insight Meditation is taught, with only the monks of Thailand and Sri Lanka continuing versions of the original teaching.
Most people are taught to sit in the lotus position for Insight Meditation, but the lotus position is difficult, so we prefer a more comfortable approach. Here at ASHW, we teach walking meditation which gives a clearer focus point and makes the number of restarts necessary much less.
Find somewhere you can walk uninterrupted. It is perfectly okay to use a room which requires you to turn 180 degrees regularly.
Start walking slowly and say to yourself “Left foot goes there” and “Right foot goes there.” The word there coinciding (approximately) with the named foot landing on the floor, and the side (left or right) being said as you start to lift the equivalent foot.
When a 180 degree turn is required: take a step that just turns the next foot 90 degrees to your previous direction of travel keeping your heels close to each other; the next step a further 45 degrees round with your toes close to each other; and then the final step of the turn is a further 45 degrees placing the foot comfortably.
So, what is your brain doing whilst walking up and down? In an ideal world — nothing! That is to say, the activity of talking to yourself about your use of legs while walking should be enough to keep your brain occupied. It won't be. As you walk, random thoughts will arise in your mind. As these thoughts occur, just say to yourself: “There's a thought.” Don't try hard to get rid of it or fight to dismiss it, let it just slip away. Easy to say but difficult to do. As you get more practiced, you will find it easier. As you gain more experience, thoughts will come less often and be easier to let slide away.
Sometimes, you will find you have been walking for some time and totally forgotten about where your feet go and be stuck deep in thought. This is not unusual and your reaction is the same. “There's a thought.” And continue with placing your left or right foot.
Over time you will find intruding thoughts come less and less often. They will still come, but they will be less of an intrusion. This is the point where the detail work starts. As thoughts are coming slower, it should be possible to notice them as they arise. And as they arise, most times you should be able to see an emotion attached to the thought. Just notice the emotion, and as before let the thought slide away. This is when you need to get plenty of practice.
If you find that you get trapped in a cycle of negative emotions arising with every thought, then you have two choices. Try our Loving Kindness Meditation or try our Joy of Life thought training.
I hope that seems simple, because it is. It is not about following the steps exactly, it is about finding your own comfort level.