Two Bonus Exercises from Radically Happy
Begin by standing in a natural position, eyes open, facing whichever direction you are about to travel in. Keep your arms naturally by your side and legs about shoulder length apart. The key point is to stand comfortably and naturally.
Now bring your attention to your feet. Notice how your feet feel, the sensation of your feet in your shoes or on the ground. You don’t need to think about it, just remain in the sensations of your heels, soles, tops of each foot, and all the toes.
Slowly begin to shift your weight onto your right foot as you get ready to step forward with your left. Notice how each muscle feels, the subtle changes to stay balanced as you begin to move. Then, as you gently lift the heel of your left foot and push off moving your foot through the air to land a step forward, notice how each movement feels.
Continue to step forward as you naturally would, just a little bit slower and more deliberately than usual, all the while keeping your attention lightly on your feet. Staying gently focused on the sensations in your feet and legs, move gradually along your chosen path.
As with other forms of meditation practice you don’t need to keep yourself intensely focused, especially since, to avoid injury, you need to be aware of the world around you as you move. But, it is the sensations of movement, each foot touching and then leaving the ground and then touching again, that is your support for this walking meditation practice.
If you notice you’ve become distracted—lost in thinking—this is the moment of thought-free awareness; you have already naturally returned to meditation. Just gently bring your attention back to the rhythm of your gait: touching, lifting, moving, and lowering to touch the ground again.
Just as in the body scan, check in with how other parts of your body feel. You can gradually, mindfully, raise your attention up your legs, into your hips, and so forth until you reach the top of our head. As you do this, take a few moments to notice how each part of your body feels. After reaching the crown of your head, gradually bring your attention down, feeling the sensations in each part of your body as you sweep your attention over it, until you reach your feet again.
After fifteen or twenty minutes, stop and remain at a standstill. Notice how your feet feel as they rest on the ground. Scan your body, notice any sensations you experience. Now take in what you see around you, moving your gaze slowly and turning your head if you wish. Listen to the sounds around you and notice your breath. After spending a few minutes doing this, either continue to walk or conclude the session.
At first this may seem a bit forced or unnatural, but that’s because you normally aren’t paying attention and you step into distraction. Gradually, you will become used to moving in this way, and it will feel more and more natural to step into mindful awareness.
As you do this practice you may need to adjust the speed of your gait. If you are moving so slowly that it feels unnatural, then speed up a bit. If you are having trouble concentrating on your feet, try slowing down a little (unless of course you were already going pretty slow, in which case speed up). Experiment until you find a gait that comfortably supports the practice.
As you become more and more familiar with this meditation practice, you can do it anytime you walk. It can provide a nice break even if you are just leaving your office desk to go to the bathroom. Now, each time you walk during the day can become an opportunity to practice meditation.
Each time we drink something, we can use that moment to practice simply being present. Instead of drinking the morning cup of coffee while browsing the internet, checking emails, or writing strange books on meditation, we can use it as a support for remaining completely present and undistracted.
This exercise works whether it is tea, coffee, or any other beverage.
Place the cup on the table. Take a moment to notice the cup itself, and the color of the liquid it holds. Notice, if it is hot, any rising steam, or if it is a fizzy drink, any sounds of effervescence.
Place your hand on the cup and notice if it feels hot or cold.
Mindfully bring the cup to your nose, feeling the sensations in your hand and arm as you lift the cup. Inhale gently and notice any aroma. Take a sip.
Notice the feeling of the liquid as it enters your mouth, the taste as it passes over your tongue. Feel the sensation swallowing the liquid and any sensations as it passes down your throat.
Continue to drink in this way as you become fully integrated into the present moment.
Phakchok Rinpoche is a new generation Tibetan Buddhist Master. Born in 1981, Rinpoche was recognized as the seventh Phakchok Rinpoche and incarnation of a great teacher and meditation master. See more about him here.