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walking (&dancing) meditation practice

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A short 8mm film from about 1969 showing Dipa Ma (at about 30"), and also Mahasi Sayadaw (at about 1'30"), both demonstrating walking meditation (IME):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LnvdkbSjtXw

Note the pace – not the super-pious slow-motion seen typically at Insight/Vipassana Meditation retreats. I've also observed Thuzana Sayadaw (of Mahasi/Pandita lineage, at TCM, San Jose) doing walking meditation, at about the same pace.

Also the turning footwork, virtually the same (Dipa Ma and Mahasi). Having been a former afficianado of ballroom and nightclub social dancing, I notice such things.

Tangentially related (i.e. papanca): My also having been a practitioner of Viennese waltz (continuous high-speed spinning -- 'waltzen' is a German verb for rolling, turning -- and rapid progression down the dance floor), youtube clips of professional Viennese waltzers (or instructional clips) show the specific footwork that makes that possible.

Example: skip to 50" through 1' 25" and especially at 1' 10" in:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q2YrvW9B7cM

Interestingly, it can be compared to youtubes of Turkish whirling dervish dancers that show the footwork that makes their art possible (different but related to waltz technique). And a tidbit from one youtube commentary on dervish dancing, which is an Islamic sufi religious ritual, remarked that an aspect that steadies such dancing is a meditative awareness of the "motionless center". That stoodout because there's a similar sense in Viennese walzing, which makes it possible to control against dizziness in a sustainable sort of trance-like consciousness.

Example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_Cf-ZxDfZA

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/9/15 8:49 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
What makes the waltz such a romantic dance is that one can find that stillness at the center by gazing into one's partner's eyes. :-)

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/9/15 9:02 AM as a reply to Laurel Carrington.
Laurel Carrington:
What makes the waltz such a romantic dance is that one can find that stillness at the center by gazing into one's partner's eyes. :-)

Yes, fixing gaze on each other is one method to counter-act dizziness. A principle is to somehow avoid noticing that the world is spinning. Some use 'spotting' (like ballet dancers doing pirouettes), but the teachers I've had discourage that, which can disrupt the 'frame', and at the speed can even injure the neck. Best is develop a sense of and hold to the centeredness, which in partner-dancing is in the center between the two. (In ballet or dervish dancing it's in the central axis of the individual's body.)

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/9/15 12:40 PM as a reply to CJMacie.

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/11/15 2:33 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Before clicking into the YouTube video (and thanks for posting that), I was guessing that the turning footwork would be similar to that used by Pa Kua, and it turned out to be a more natural turning step. 

Systema applies their breath-work discipline to walking in a way very similar to what was shown, though some of the teachers would bristle at calling it 'meditation'.  (Now, if you called it 'prayer' those teachers would be right on board. But that's another discussion.)

Thanks for posting, It helped clarify a practice I was a little fuzzy on.

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/11/15 7:50 PM as a reply to Scott Kinney.
Scott Kinney: "Before clicking into the YouTube video (and thanks for posting that), I was guessing that the turning footwork would be similar to that used by Pa Kua, and it turned out to be a more natural turning step."

"Systema applies their breath-work discipline to walking in a way very similar to what was shown, though some of the teachers would bristle at calling it 'meditation'.  (Now, if you called it 'prayer' those teachers would be right on board. But that's another discussion.)"

That's "BaGua" (Chinese / Daoist practice forms)? Can you point to, e.g. youtube video showing the analogous footwork?

Likewise for "Systema" (never heard of that but a quick check points to a Russian martial art)?

I've some sense of that area of footwork from TaiJiQuan (the Yang-style prevelant on the West Coast USA -- tracing back to Cheng Man-ch'ing), and assorted Daoist 'qigong' (actually 'daoyin' is the more accurate historical term) forms that I have practiced over the years. (But have never studied a bagua form.)

Yes, probably to be seen as "a more natural turning step", as the focus would be doing something simple and natural so the mental dimension remains foremost in meditation (or also 'prayer'). In formal dance and martial arts there are other criteria that demand more exact technique -- both being in a sense competitive and the latter being potentially life-critical. And in dervish-dancing, some precision and skill is needed to be able to keep it up.

Thanks for responding.

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/12/15 11:32 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Hi Chris,

Pa Kua/Ba Gua is the Chinese martial art, part of the "internal" tri of Tai Chi, Pa Kua and Hsing I. Here's a clip that shows a combination of Pa Kua's circle walking, with some linear walking thrown in.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CF3u3um2Axk  Swimming Dragon Pa Kua Demo

Systema is a Russian martial art system. Here's a clip of the truly generous Sharon Friedman talking about and demonstrating applied Systema walking principles. (There's some wind noise that makes him hard to hear at times.)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRvkUpZhK_E  Sharon Friedman - Systema Walking

With respect to the topic of walking meditation; I get what you're saying about a natural form of walking lending itself to keeping the primary object of meditation in mind, and allowing a certain level of noting the activity of walking without diverting attention to the act of walking itself. This is a little different than I'd initially pictured the practice of walking meditation, and it is easier to grasp and practice. It was the notion of the walking being the primary object of meditation that led me to imagining a more formal or stylistic approach to walking. OK.

With respect to Systema; the basic concepts are that the breath leads all movement, and movement (to be free) needs to use only the necessary force and tension, and no more. It's somewhere on the continuum of awareness of breath,  where you are aware of the physical sensations. Sharon talks about removing the unnecessary tension (or removing 'noise' from movement), and when he does, he's skipping all the steps the practitioner has to take to be aware of points of tension first, and then be able to release them. There's a curriculum of working with breath, tension and movement in small-scope ways that build to larger applications. (This is analgous to noting, in my opinion, where consistently noting even small things, leads to skill in noting larger things, and leads to greater insights.) 

There's probably another approach which would use walking itself as the primary object of meditation, I just haven't given it much thought.

Regards,

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/12/15 1:05 PM as a reply to CJMacie.
Here's another video on youtube of the Ven. Mahasi Sayadaw "in action." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_U7TtSeOlG4

What I think is interesting is around the 8" and 9" marks, where he's presumably showing walking meditation, not much unlike the other video. Before starting, or in between, he appears to stand still and shuffle his feet. I wonder if he's attending to intention at this juncture, to see which foot will eventually move first.

I was already playing with this concept when I first found this video, and of course correlated it with my own practice (who can say what the sayadaw was really trying to show). As I practice it, walking forward, at the end of a path, I'll turn around and see which foot would like to move forward. Then I stop and drop the intention to move that foot, and then allow the intention to move a foot forward to arise again, sometimes willing it to be the other foot. Then I drop that intention, rest, allow it to arise again, etc. Eventually I take a step, but until then, it kind of looks a little like the shuffling shown in the video.

RE: walking (&dancing) meditation practice
Answer
8/13/15 10:25 AM as a reply to CJMacie.
Interesting - this certainly contrasts with the walking meditation instructions I have seen from other sources where the pace is much slower (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_IFvablc6EI). OTOH, this instruction actually advises walking at a normal pace: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BncD2pinvTo#t=26m50s.

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