In Bodh Gaya, India, there is an old Bodhi tree that shades the very spot where the Buddha is believed to have sat in meditation on the night of his enlightenment. Close by is a raised walking path about seventeen steps in length, where the Buddha mindfully paced up and down in walking meditation after becoming enlightened, experiencing the joy of a liberated heart. In his teachings, the Buddha stressed the importance of developing mindfulness in all postures, including standing, sitting, lying down, and walking.
When reading accounts about the lives of monks and nuns in the time of the Buddha, you find that many attained various stages of enlightenment while doing walking meditation. Monks would often practice walking meditation for 10 to 15 hours a day. For most of us, that is extreme and we can do a simpler (shorter) version.
In walking meditation, the primary object of attention is the process of walking itself. In other words, to sharpen awareness and train the mind to concentrate, you pay close attention to the physical act of walking, the way you take one step after another, consciously feeling your feet make contact with the earth.
Practicing walking meditation greatly facilitates the development of mindfulness in ordinary daily life. If you can learn to establish awareness during walking meditation - when you are physically moving with your eyes open—then it won't be difficult to arouse that same wakeful quality during other activities, such as eating, washing dishes, or driving. It will be easier for you to arouse mindfulness while walking around shops, through the park, or during any other time. Your meditation will begin to permeate your entire life.
The importance of this cannot be overstated. It is the presence of mindfulness that keeps your consciousness alive and alert to reality, thereby transforming ordinary life into a continuous practice of meditation, and transforming the mundane into the spiritual. We can all learn to walk with mindfulness so that our steps print peace and serenity on Earth.
As with any meditation method, skill in walking meditation only comes from regular practice and patient effort, but the benefits are well worth it.