WALKING TO THE RHYTHM OF THE BREATH

Breath walkingYou don’t have to go to the Hindu Kush or the Alps to benefit from walking in harmony with the breath and the heartbeat. In fact, it will be easier to practise if you start by strolling gently on a smooth level path. Choose a quiet location – this can be indoors or out of doors - where you are less likely to be distracted, to try the next exercise.

 

 

 

1. Stand at ease, with the distance between your feet about the same as the width of your shoulders. Become aware of the rhythm of the breath, allowing yourself to be breathed.

2. Give yourself time to reach a relaxed meditative state – focusing all your attention on the breath. Allow yourself to be breathed.

3. After a while, you may sense that your body feels like moving. If so, just let it move any way at all – swaying, marking time, dancing, walking or whatever. Do not plan anything, do not do anything. Just don’t stop your body from moving. Let it be free to move as it feels like!

4. If at this point you find that your body remains unmoved, then on an out-breath step down gently with your left foot, and on the in-breath step down with your right foot. Continue this stationary walk for five or six rounds.

5. Move your left foot just a little bit forward on an out-breath, and your right on the in-breath. After continuing this for some time, you may find yourself quite naturally doing two or more steps to each in-breath and each out-breath. 

6. You can now begin to walk slowly and naturally while still keeping your awareness on the movement of the breath. Allow your feet to move by themselves. It might help to imagine that your feet are like two little puppies that you let out for a walk. Relax, let them out and allow yourself to be walked!

It is important not to try too hard at this exercise or to start working out in your head the ratio of steps to breath. As you walk, just take note of the number of steps as the breath goes in, and again as it goes out. In the beginning there will probably be one or two steps to each in-breath or out-breath. However, the number doesn’t really matter, though it will probably increase as you gradually pick up speed. Do not force the breath or your steps in any way. The most important thing is to allow the breath to flow at whatever tempo it wants, and to let your steps fall in with this. And all the time keep your awareness within your body and on the breath. It goes without saying, that to engage properly in this, you will need to leave your ipod or discman at home.