Walking meditation question

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This topic contains 3 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  Upasaka Culadasa 8 years ago.

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    John Anders

    I have tried the walking meditation a few times but have a question regarding where the focus of the eyes should be.

    Should the gaze be focused on something in particular or just have a soft gaze and be unfocused on anything at all?


    Blake Barton

    Hi John,

    There is not any specific focus point for the eyes. You should generally look a comfortable distance in front of yourself. In Stage One of walking meditation, You will allow your visual attention to move as it will. Visual objects become just another part of exploring the present moment.

    There are other exercises in higher stages where you will investigate visual objects.

    If you are practicing in some of the higher stages, I think a soft gaze will be fine.

    Blake – Dharma Treasure Teacher in Training


    John Anders

    > In Stage One of walking meditation, You will allow your visual attention to move as it will.

    What about when focusing on the sensations in the soles of the feet?

    Am I to understand correctly that in stage one I should hold my attention on both the sensation in the soles of the feet and on whatever my eyes are seeing?


    Hi John,

    I think you are over-interpreting the instruction a bit. Think about the sitting practice. In Stages One through Six, even though your intention is to focus attention solely on the breath sensations, attention will still be alternating with distractions, both gross and subtle distractions in Stages One through Four, and subtle distractions in Stages Five and early Stage Six, at least until you’ve achieved exclusive attention.

    Exactly the same thing happens during walking meditation, only more so because your eyes are open, you’re moving, and the number and variety of stimuli is so much greater than when sitting quietly. The intentional focus of attention is always the sensation of walking, but attention will continue spontaneously alternating with visual, auditory, and other stimuli. The idea is to just let this happen, don’t make any deliberate attempt to stop or restrain it. As you progress through the Stages, attention during walking meditation will naturally do this less and less, while all these same stimuli will continue to be known through peripheral awareness. The various exercises described for walking meditation in Stages One through Six all contribute to this gradual shift toward more peripheral awareness and away from spontaneous movements of attention.

    It’s helpful to keep the goal in mind. In the beginning, attention is very unstable and exhibits frequent spontaneous movements, while peripheral awareness is quite weak. As your practice develops, the goal is for attention to become more and more stable, while at the same time peripheral awareness becomes more and more powerful. And all you need to do for this to happen is to keep bringing the attention back to the meditation object (breath when sitting, feet when walking), while holding the attention to be conscious of everything else via peripheral awareness.

    I hope this helps,

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