For students comfortable with traditional walking meditation, Nashville meditation center Hurry Up and Sit introduced an advanced version, which also incorporates chewing gum. Like typical walking meditation, walking and chewing gum meditation involves repeatedly - and mindfully - reclining forward from a standing position almost to the point of tipping over and then extending the foot forward so as to prevent falling. Walking and chewing gum meditation, however, integrates the additional challenge of simultaneous mastication of a soft, gelatinous substance.
“The tongue can either graze the roof of the mouth or rest naturally inside the mouth cavity without touching anything,” said HUS Director Andrew Chapman. “But the intention should be not to bite it.”
Chapman went on to explain, “If we don't keep expanding the boundaries of mindfulness, there's a risk of growing complacent. Adding an additional component to standard walking meditation can help nudge people out of a spiritual plateau.”
Helpful as it might be for some to take their walking meditation to the next level, walking and chewing gum meditation is not for everyone, cautioned Chapman. For instance, beginner practitioner, Lisa Siegel, reported, “I tend to hold my breath when I walk, and I’m terrible at keeping my balance. Because I’m trying not to fall over, I have to go very slowly and my brain focuses on that. As a result, I’m much more mindful when walking.”
For students like Lisa, who are still reaping mindfulness benefits from basic walking meditation, Chapman encouraged omitting the gum-chewing for now. “There’s no race to enlightenment,” he said. “For the average American practitioner, walking and chewing gum can wait until the next lifetime.”