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Walking Meditation Among Paper Lanterns

Get yourself walking
toward yourself.

Genesis 12:1

Welcome to this candle-lit walking meditation. It is a variation of an ancient practice found in different forms in many religious traditions around the world. Walking this simple spiral path may enable you to quiet your mind, to awaken your senses, to develop what the secular mystic Simone Weil called "the faculty of attention," which she insisted is the essence of prayer. Through the practice of walking meditation, many people discover a new way of listening to the questions of their lives.

When God calls Abraham to a new homeland and way of life, God uses the words lech lecha a paradoxical Hebrew phrase. It can mean, as Arthur Waskow suggests, "get yourself walking toward yourself" or, more imaginatively, "reach out in order to find your innermost being." The phrase points to the power and mystery of walking as a metaphor for the spiritual life, and suggests an understanding of spiritual striving as taking the shape of a spiral path. Each step forms a link in a path that moves both forward and backward " back to traditions, familiar understandings, to what has been; forward into the world, the new, into what is to come.

Walking Thoughts

Writer and labyrinth-workshop leader Lauren Artress offers several different approaches to walking meditation that you may want to consider.

Asking a Question - You may want to take a moment to consider where you are in your life before you begin. Perhaps a question you are asking, or a challenge you are facing will surface for you to reflect upon as you walk.

Repeating a Phrase - A common form of meditation is to repeat a word, a brief phrase or prayer, or a sacred text. Some people repeat one of the names for God; others have used this Buddhist meditation:

May I dwell in the heart
May I be free from suffering
May I be healed
May I be at peace

Attentiveness - You may simply walk the path as a means of allowing all of your senses to come alive, paying attention to what you see, hear, smell, taste, and feel.

Finding your own Pace - Whatever approach you choose, feel free to walk at your own pace and in your own way, without any sense of strict rules that need to be followed. Walking meditation seems to work best when you walk alone, allowing each person to give the full range of their attention to what they are feeling, sensing, and thinking; feel free to stop and stand still or to pass others on the path, and do not worry if others are passing you.

For more information about our program, or the sources for this page, contact Sam Speers, Director, Religious and Spiritual Life - Vassar College - 845-437-5550.