Monday, July 23, 2012

Mindfulness Project: Week Two

[Click here for Mindfulness Project: Week One]

In the second chapter of Beginning Mindfulness: Learning the Way of Awareness, Andress Weiss takes several of the concepts from the first week's chapter and expands on them.

The first section is on being aware of breathing, which helps lead to serenity. He writes:
We can begin by being aware of whether our in-breath is long or short. Perhaps our in-breath is short and our out-breath is long. It's not important to make our breath be any particular way; it's only important to notice how our breath is. We train our attention on this breath that we are breathing right now and not on remembering the one we have just breathed. We also do not anticipate the one we will inhale or exhale next.
This type of breathing helps one remain in the present, and can deepen mediation.

In the second part of the chapter, Weiss introduces walking meditation. I've never heard of walking meditation before! Apparently there are two main types:
  1. Kinhin, or "slow walking": When practicing kinhin, you walk slowly, concentrating on the ground in front of you, your breathing, posture, and the feel of your feet, legs, and body as you step forward. Each step accompanies an in-breath or out-breath.
  2. Faster walking meditation: This second type of walking meditation still isn't at a brisk pace, but it does move faster at a nice stroll. While still concentrating on breathing and the way the body feels as you walk, you also take in the sights and notice what is going on around you. 
    As we walk, we may see, hear, or smell something that we want to savor. When we do, we stop, breathe in and out several times, and enjoy what we encounter. We breathe to be fully present.
I have to admit my initial response to walking while meditating was, well, surprise; frankly, it sounds a little strange! (And, ask my husband, I have a hard enough time walking without tripping as it is!). But upon reading this chapter again, I can appreciate the strengths of each type of walking meditation. The first is very focused on stilling the mind, which relaxes and centers the body. The second allows for greater awareness and appreciation for the outside world.

The tasks this week are to increase the sitting meditation time to ten or even fifteen minutes, and to do a little kinhin walking mediation afterwards; and to add a second daily-life mindfulness ritual. I still have the "Mindful Clock" installed on both computers and have been very consistent in pausing, breathing, and reflecting when it goes off at fifteen minute intervals. For my second mindful activity, I'm going to take a few moments to concentrate on my breathing and thoughts when getting a drink of water or tea throughout the day.

For those of you on this journey with me, how are your practices going so far? Have you been consistent with your sitting meditation? Has it been difficult or easy to get through your sessions? Have you tried walking meditation yet?