Chapter 19: Walking Meditation Method

Phra Rajsuddhinanamangala
14th September 1989

Regular meditation practice causes a steady mind. Thinking does not err. Actions are correct. The mind is not discontented or sullen. The mind then does not think incorrectly. In this manner, it can be regarded as pure.

A person who can be pure has to practise meditation. It is the only thing that can amend the retribution. We can learn of our previous deeds through the presence. If we realize the present moment, how can we be wrong? Use mindfulness and clearconsciousness as a practising principle. Objects of consciousness are the practising principle. When mindfulness is adhered to the mind, the mind is static. It is less confused and diffused.

If any person has mindfulness and clear-consciousness, using the Four Foundations of Mindfulness as practising principle, he is sure to shun the door to bad existences, i.e., hell, hungry ghost, demon and animal. He will not be born in low or common ground at all.

According to the ritual, people go to observe the Eight Precepts at every temple, but they never practise meditation. The Noble Path factor will not occur. Morality is not excellent. ‘Precept’ means normal. How can we be normal while having mindfulness and clear-consciousness? The answers can be according to the following context.

A person who practises the Four Foundations of Mindfulness does his duty in every posture. He contemplates on his mindfulness to control his mind. He has clearconsciousness, which is realisation of each posture, in whatever he does. So the precepts that he observes are pure. The precept can only be pure by meditation practice. Normality cannot occur just like that.

All righteous people, when you go to observe the Eight Precepts at any temple, the monks usually give a sermon, teaching you to be restraint in all Indriya (faculties) and be alert on your duty. All the monks teach so. But may be you do not know how to practise in order to restrain your Indri-ya. In such a manner, how can you know what is being alert on your duty? For that matter, you just go to observe the Eight Precepts following the ritual and do not understand anything much, because you have never practise the cause of mindfulness and clearconsciousness. For this reason, all dhamma practitioners please think this over.

Dhamma practice requires contemplation on mindfulness plus clearconsciousness in the present moment. That is why it is called moral principle. It requires practising this point in order that dhamma can arise. If you do not practise this point how can you meet dhamma, or suffering in this case? How can you find happiness when you do not know genuine happiness, genuine suffering, transformation of life and your genuine object of consciousness at the time? So, you follow your own emotion. It is then difficult to find goodness and virtue in your self. it is so difficult for it to occur.

So, all dhamma practitioners, let us practice the Four Foundations of Mindfulness. Start from the easy one, not difficult one. There is no need to believe any one beyond your reach, for that is how troubles occur.

In practising the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, dhamma practitioners has to be able to practise while realizing as follow.

Ka-ya-nupassana- satipat.t.ha-na (contemplation on body). Ka-ya is the whole of our body. Wherever you contemplate on anywhere is your body, set your mindfulness at your mind. Restrain your body while standing, walking, sitting, lying down, turning left and right. Continuous contemplation is the correct method.

If we lack contemplation, we do not have normality. If normality is not there, how can the precept be with us? This is it. We use too little mindfulness in contemplating the body, because dhamma practitioners use it to contemplate something else. So, they do not contemplate normal body. We can only attain normality by practice contemplating on the body.

The first in the Four Foundations of Mindfulness is Body Contemplation. We have to contemplate on ‘standing…thus’ for five times. Set your mind at the crown of your head. Use mindfulness to follow your mind, ‘standing…’. This is called meditation in standing posture. Contemplate ‘standing…’ while your mindfulness follows your mind down to the navel. Stop to gain a rhythm. Then set your mindfulness to follow your mind again. In such a manner, it will be able to keep up with the contemplation. Otherwise your mindfulness cannot keep pace with the mind since it is very quick. There has to be a place to rest.

Navel centre is the resting place for nerves. All nerves gather at the navel centre. So, we have to stop there and from whence restrain mindfulness contemplating on ‘…thus’ down to the tip of the toes, in order to keep the mind and mindfulness at the same pace. Otherwise, mindfulness cannot keep pace with the mind. Practitioners please be aware on this point in order to understand fully. Or else, you will not be able to understand at all. When you do not understand, how can you accomplish the practice? So, follow this point.

‘Standing…’ starts with restraining from the tip of toes. Be alert. Use mindfulness to follow the mental picture. Then ‘standing…’, set you mind at tips of both toes. Form a mental picture of yourself standing with closed eyes. Use mindfulness to follow your mind up step by step while you contemplate on ‘standing…’ up to the navel. Then stop for awhile. Set your mindfulness on. Take a long breath. From the navel move on, ‘…thus’. Move from the navel to the crown of your head. Then you will be fluent at it. Otherwise you will not be able to grasp any point. This is important. Please remember and practise right away.

Contemplate like this five times. One, contemplate from the crown to the tips of the toes. Two, restrain from tips of toes to the the crown. Third time, set mindfulness at the crown and move down to the tips of the toes, as explained before. Fourth time, restrain from the tips of the toes to the crown again. Fifth time, restrain from the crown of your head, form a mental picture, use mindfulness to follow the mind, contemplate ‘standing…’ to the navel. Stop and take a long breath for rhythm. ‘Thus…’ use mindfulness to follow to the tips of the toes. You will breathe easily and will be able to use mindfulness fluently too.

I leave this with all practitioners. Do it right. If you do not do right, there will be no result. If you do anything correctly, you will be dexterous and fluent in mind. Mindfulness can keep up with the pace. Your activity will be improved until it becomes a present moment. All dhamma practitioners please remember this. Do everything right. Do not do things wrong. Do not believe any one who teaches incorrectly. You must follow this.

Some people have practised for a long time but never been able to grasp the principle. They cannot find a place to set the mindfulness. So, they make a false step because practice is not correct, the mind is incoherent, going out of the points of being alert and restraint. So, the mind is not restraint and alert. The mind is diffused. Wisdom does not arise. Wisdom in this case means knowing how to think, knowing inside the mind and knowing the thinking points of the mind. It will cause n~a-n.a dasanavisuddhi (pure insight, pure vision through wisdom). It will cause purity.

When the mind is confused, it is in catastrophe. It will not let go of other things that it is incorrectly attached to. Practising will steer its course to the status of normality. With good mindfulness, morality arises here. Mindfulness is then improved and wisdom arises. Purity then occurs. The mind is clear and no longer tarnished. The mind is supported by mindfulness and clear-consciousness. This is a very good wisdom.

Practitioners please do it step by step. Do not grasp the wrong things and practise incorrectly, lest your mind goes astray. When san.kha-ra (volitional activity) is dressed, leading you to the five sensual pleasures and your mind does not get a clue of it, your mindfulness cannot control your mind. People lose their mindfulness here. Everything they do is then obstructed. The mind is always tarnished at this point.

So, dhamma practitioners please know and understand that you have to practise until you are able to do each of this step by step. Do not grab everything and combine them all. They will confuse you and cause chaos untill you are not able to know for certain what is what.

Will all dhamma practitioners practise this first – Body Contemplation, start from standing meditation. From standing, you have to practise walking. From walking you have to sit. From sitting you have to practise lying down. These four postures are the basic for you to practise morality, meditation and wisdom.

Today I will give a speech to simplify it. Practitioners who have not practised for a long time can review result of your own work whether you have been able to do it.

Being restraint and alert have been mentioned for some times, not knowing how and where to do. When practitioners do not know, they look at other places. They expect other results, without a true undertanding. So, they lose their mindfulness and their minds are not good because they have not comtemplated on the present moment.

The word present moment means that mindfulness can keep pace with the mind. And the mind can contemplate, i.e., there is neither past nor future. At the same time that mind and mindfulness contemplate, awareness arises. This is called the present moment.

Dhamma practitioners have to understand. If not, they cannot improve even if they keep on practising for another hundred years. There will be no result. They will lose mindfulness. A person without mindfulness does not have the right view. So, he follows his emotion. His mind then becomes good-for-nothing or incline toward the sinful path. So, he is at risk and cannot help himself. This is very clear. Dhamma practitioners please acknowledge the above.

Contemplating on standing for five times can be called in religious word as the elementary of Tacapan~cakakammat.t.ha-na (the subject for meditation comprising the five constituents ending with the skin). What we contemplate upward and downward from our heads are kesa- (hair), loma- (body hair), nakha- (nails), danta- (teeth), taco (skin), taco, danta-, nakha-, loma- and kesa-. This is the practice method. But people do not understand so they are mistaken and cannot keep their mindfulness. Wisdom does not arise. The mind is not excellent. Practitioners please know this and make use of it.

Once we can do it, there will be fluency and dexterity in practising. Either mindfulness or clear-consciousness can enter our mind clearly. Our mind will be true. Our hands will be clean. Our actions are resolute. So the virtue arises according to the above logic.

Do not teach other things. Pass this point first. This is the starting point of dhamma practice. It is a must. Do not teach upper level when you do not know it well. You have to have elementary understanding as your own base.

A person entering a state of normal human has to have mindfulness in standing. Contemplate on standing posture first. Then open your eyes after contemplating the fifth time. Having opened your eyes, do not look shiftily at others. Stare at the tip of your toes. After staring at the tip of your toes for awhile, observe the situation. Restrain your mind at the tip of your toes. Set your mindfulness there and contemplate the mind on ‘right…stepping…thus’. Make it as slow as if you are having fever or about to die.

Since our mind is quick, faster than an airplane, it cannot see. It is confused because it is anxious. We then are not patient enough and do it too quickly. So, will all dhamma practitioners please do it slowly. Set your mindfulness first.

‘Right…’ Lift up your heel for one or two inches. That is enough for you to realize that it is right foot. It is not necessary to lift the whole foot, lest you fall down. Do it just enough for you to call the designated name to your mind. What does ‘right…’ mean? It reminds you to set your mindfulness at the right foot. Then step while contemplate on the present moment.

Will all the teachers oversee clearly on this point? Do not let them do it in the past or in the future. Otherwise they cannot contemplate on dhamma. It is all here.

‘Stepping…thus…’. The foot has to be exactly down to the floor. Do not break this rule. Otherwise, you will not get the result. You have to follow this lesson of the teacher.

‘Stepping…’ is the clear-consciousness being fully aware while you are stepping. Make it as slow as possible. Make your mind follow and your mindfulness pursue if you catch the present moment. Then contemplate ‘thus…’ when you step on the floor.

Then set your mindfulness again. A new mind is born. Recall ‘left…’ before contemplate again. Keep the right foot still. Do not move at all. Use your mindfulness to control your mind when you recall ‘left’. Lift your heel up at the same time. Stop for awhile. Then contemplate on stepping…thus… Your foot is exactly down on the floor.

Your life will be very good. Whatever you do, things will get better. Thus, a mind-training causes better mindfulness. When you step down at the same time as recalling ‘thus…’; do not move yet. Stay still for awhile. Leave a gap. Then set the mindfulness again. You will see a new mind born clearly.

Right… lift the heel a little, for one inch at least or two inches at most. Do not lift the whole foot. Stay in that position for awhile, do not step yet. Then recall ‘stepping…’ and put your foot down exactly when recalling ‘thus…’. Press your foot down at the same time as recalling ‘thus…’. This is called paccupanna dhamma (the present condition).

This is the simplest explanation. Do not move yet. Keep good mindfulness while stopping. It is like leaving a space between letters when you write. Contemplate ‘left…’. Lift up your heel and stop. Do not step yet. Collect all awareness and pin down in order for the present moment to arise. When recall ‘stepping…’, you have to step at the same time as your mind recalls. Make ‘thus…’ as slow as possible. The slower you do, the better is your concentration. If it is very quick, there is no concentration at all. The mind is as quick as before. The mind is not constrained. This is where there is no mindfulness and clearconsciousness.

What I have said is not easy. It is very difficult to do. Anyone who says that it is easy is wrong. He does not think correctly when he says, “Pooh! Trivial matter! It’ s easy. ” That is not true.

It is difficult to have mindfulness and clear-consciousness to control the mind. It is not easy at all. But we have to try until we get the rhythm. Then it will be easy later. It has to begin with difficult. Then we make the difficult to be simple. When it is simple, there will be fluency. When it is fluent, mindfulness will be good. You can catch the mindfulness and get hold of the mind. Mind will not go outside to be incoherent or think of nonsense, good-for-nothing. It is all here. This is useful for you.

When you step to the end of the path and want to turn right, stop close to the right. Pull your right foot close to your left. Restrain your mind recalling ‘stopping…thus’. Having stopped, contemplate on ‘standing…thus’ for five times. Get back to practise standing meditation in order to refine it. Contemplate on ‘standing…thus’ for five times. Then open your eyes.

Will all relatives and patrons please do not open your eyes while you are practising meditation in standing posture? Close your eyes in order to look at your internal objects of concentration. See how they go outside, so that you will be able to know it.

After contemplating on standing posture for five times, open your eyes and gaze at the tip of your toes. It is not looking at the tree top or practise walking meditation with closed eyes. I have seen some patrons practise walking meditation with closed eyes. Even half-opened eyes will not do. You have to have your eyes wide open and stare at the tip of your toes. This is a training to familiarize yourself with the state of mindfulness attached to the mind. Then, your mind will not be crippled. Your mind will always have morality. Your mind will be pleasant and excellent because of morality. Wisdom arises at that moment.

After contemplated on standing posture for five times, open your eyes to look at the tip of your toes. Then turn clockwise. Do not turn anti-clockwise. Will the teachers please follow what I have taught? Do not be unorthodox when you do not really know. I leave this to you. Turn to the right while recalling ‘turning…’ your feet move in the right direction, ‘…thus’ your feet on the floor. ‘Turning…thus’. ‘Turning…thus’. Turn with four steps first. Do not break away from the teaching.

Do not use the reference book from anywhere else. Turning must be done in four steps. Do not hold seriously what others do. Turning…thus. You have come 25 per cent of the way. Turning…thus, another 25. Turning…thus, another 25. Turning…thus, you have now turned around straight. Do not use other reference book at all. It is strictly forbidden because it does not work, lest you will be confused. If you follow above, you will turn around exactly.

Refine your practice. After making a turn, do not start to walk right away. What is the rush? That is not good. You have to contemplate ‘standing…thus’ for another five times. This is called restraining the internal objects of concentration. Observe the internal objects of concentration. Close your eyes. You will open them in just a moment later. Close your eyes and practise ‘standing…thus’ for five times as I have explained.

Having contemplated, restrain your indri-ya (faculties). Recall the mind that you will open your eyes. Stare at the tip of your toes. Then contemplate on ‘right…stepping…thus’, touch the floor. I can assure that, after four or five rounds of walking your mindfulness will improve quite a lot. You will have a restrained mind and can think peculiarly.

Let me leave this with you. You cannot do it because you have been quicktempered. I don’t know where you will rush to when you practise walking meditation. According to what I have noticed, when you practised walking meditation you tend to walk hastily like cantering a horse along the side of the fence. Where will you go to?

Just walk for a distance of 4 – 5 wahs (6 – 8 metres). Then turn around back and forth. That is sufficient. Walk for the minimum of 3 wahs (4.5 metres) and the maximum of 5 wahs (7.5 metres) or not more than 8 wahs (12 metres). Do not keep on going without knowing the destination. Learn how to turn. In this way, you can integrate ‘standing…thus’ five times into your practice.

While walking, vedana- (feeling) may arise. You may feel the ache at the back of your neck or your waist or your legs. Stop walking immediately. Stand still at the point you stop. Do not go on walking. Cease the contemplation on every thing else. Restrain your mind and set your mindfulness at that vedana- (feeling) and contemplate ‘aching…thus’, ‘aching…thus’, ‘aching…thus’. Do not let your mind wander elsewhere. Concentrate on the feeling and realize that when you touch it with your mind, san.kha-ra (formation) arises. Then san.kha-ra (formation) dresses up causing more vedana- (feeling). Realize just this.

When you contemplate on vedana- (feeling) you know true nature, know what is a lot aching and slight aching. Then you realize that sankhara (formation) dresses this up. Each depends on other’s form. That is both states are interdependent. That is why it aches so, aching at the back of neck, legs or waist. But if we can contemplate and realize the being of formation, form and name, we can then restrain our mind and start to practise walking meditation again. This is it. Practise it finely.

While practising walking meditation, if you are confused because of the aching that has not gone, your mind may wander out to think of so many things. You may think of comfort of happiness. You may think that you shouldn’t be doing this walking meditation at all. Or, you may think of stopping or pausing for awhile and resume later. These thoughts are temptations by the evils. They obstruct you from merit making.

You have to put up your will-power before you see the dhamma. Do not stop. Do not cease. What do you contemplate on? Contemplate on incoherent mind. Your mind is confused because it thinks of so many things. So, stand still. Cross your arms behind. Use your right hand to grab your left hand. Do not cross your arms in front. So you do not stand with bending back. That may cause backache. Cross your arms at the lumbar portion of the spine and contemplate.

If your mind is confused, contemplate on ‘confuse…thus’. When you contemplate on confused mind, where do you set your mind? Set it at the chest bone. Take a long breath from nostril to navel. Take a long breath and pin your mind deeply at the chest bone. Use your mindfulness to pursue ‘confuse…thus’, ‘confuse…thus’. Take a long breath. Your mind will sense in a few moment.

When meditation arises, wisdom will tell that it is useless to think like that. The mind can come back to its source quickly. Wisdom is like this. Then go on practising walking meditation until the end of the period that you have resolved to do, like 30 minutes for example.

If you feel sorry while walking, stop. Contemplate on ‘sorry…thus’, ‘sorry…thus’, ‘sorry…thus’. Pin the mind deeply at your chest bone. Hang on to the contemplation. If you can do it, your mind will be clear. Wisdom will arise. Once the wisdom has arisen the sorry feeling will be gone. Sorrow causes anger. It is like punishment to one’s own sorrow. Once the wisdom has arisen, the mind will not take this kind of feeling any more. Your mind will be at ease. There is no bad temper or sorry feeling any more. Resume your walking meditation pracice then.

After a session of walking meditation, say 30 minutes, with nothing happens, walk slowly to look for a place to sit. Walk while contemplate ‘right…stepping…thus’. Do not take up anything else. Do not increase this or that. Make sure you are able to do this first. If you are not, why increase this and that? Will all trainers please oversee this. Do not increase extra contemplating point. It will make practitioners confused and vexed. This stage is more than enough. Increase contemplating points later, when practitioners are able to separate form and name. Then you can increase stage two and three accordingly. Do not teach out of this principle. This is more than enough. If you can contemplate until your mind is good, at the end of walking session contemplate while looking for a place to practise sitting meditation, where it has been prepared…

Credit: eBooks. Wat Amphawan.