LAKEVIEW — The bell sounded on the second floor of a Lutheran church just two blocks from Wrigley Field, signaling the end of a 15-minute, sitting meditation.
The 14 participants at the weekly Monday night meditation meet-up opened their eyes, rose from their seats, and bowed toward the center of the circle. Sleepily, they moved silently to the outside of the circle and began slowly walking single-file and clockwise around the chairs.
Before the night's meditation began, group facilitator Steve Starr explained the process of walking meditation to the group. He abandoned his sitting cushion and demonstrated.
"Lift, move, plant. Lift, move, plant," he said, as he deliberately lifted his foot, moved it forward, and placed it on the ground in front. A smooth movement, at a snail's pace. "Remember, you're not walking to get anywhere."
During the 15 minutes of walking meditation, the group finished just two laps around the chairs.
"With any meditation, you want to be able to take it off the cushion and use it in your everyday life," said Starr, who has been leading the group for five years. "With the walking meditation, you're one step closer to that."
Krishna Tateneni, who has been a regular at the weekly meet-up for the past two years, said walking meditation poses different challenges than sitting.
"I'm always worried, 'Am I walking at the right speed?" laughed Tateneni. "There are certainly more things to think about. I'm just trying to stay upright."
Tory Crae, a longtime yoga fanatic and meditation group regular, said he sometimes struggles with his balance while walking and meditating.
"I have to forget about the walking, and just be in the moment."