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Walking Meditation for Atheists

Walking Meditation for Atheists

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Take a look at this walking meditation video:
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Walking meditation is a technique for creating a positive state of mind.  Despite its religious origin, executing the technique requires no belief in any kind of supernatural power or phenomena. 

What’s going on here is that the act of walking provides a focal point for thoughts.  If you just tell someone to focus on a thought, it’s very difficult.  That’s why meditation techniques often feature an activity such as walking or breathing that helps the practitioner filter out distractions.   Focusing on positive thoughts then enables us to make use of the biomechanical link between our brains and our bodies.  This is all very scientific, whether or not the Buddhists knew it when they developed these techniques.

Thich Nhat Hanh is probably not an Atheist. He asks how we will walk once we are in the Kingdom of God, and notes that if we take unhappy steps we will pollute that otherworldly realm.  Of course, you and I believe in no such thing.

But the idea translates.  Instead of talking about our souls, we can talk about our brains; instead of thinking about avoiding the pollution of Heaven, we focus on keeping Earth pure.  And of course, we might not even believe that there is such a thing as “purity.”  After all, we are all part of nature, even the immoral or negative parts.  But we still want to be happy, and therefore have an interest in maintaining an orderly state of mind, free of stress and negativity.

By focusing on the walking, we can accomplish two things:  we can be mindful of each moment (which enables us to treasure each moment) and we can use the technique to focus on joy (which helps us alter our mental state in a positive fashion).

Try this:  take a walk and focus on each footstep.  Do this for a few minutes until you become accustomed to focusing on nothing else but the feeling of moving your knees and your thighs and feeling the touch of the ground on the sole of your foot.

Then focus on the joy of those feelings.  How lucky you are to be able to feel the ground! As you focus on the sensation of each footstep, remind yourself that your ability to sense is a symptom of not being dead!

 

 

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