The island of Koh Phangan is a magical, inspirational and spiritual place in Thailand. In our previous article we discussed volunteering and coaching opportunities (Gift yourself a holiday) with MOVE to Be You.
Today we will explore a specific methodology incorporating mindfulness that was founded right here on the island.
The Inner Walk program is a walking meditation practice with a twist. The technique is very simple, where you walk at a freestyle pace, back and forth in a space of 15 meters, over 4 hours. The full experience is held over 4 consecutive days, where the participants walk 16 hours together.
We had a lovely opportunity to dedicate ourselves to this practice, which is offered free of charge (donations always welcomed).
In this interview we want to share this inspirational journey and impactful practice with you, where we spoke with Inner Walk’s co-founder Yuval Birman, known as Fluke on the island.
1. Could you talk about the methodology of Inner Walk?
Our perceived reality is made up of delusions of our past and future. We are always imagining expectations, desires, assumptions, cravings, anger, and other thoughts and emotions that pull us out of reality. The Inner Walk practice allows people to free themselves from the control of their mind by becoming aware of it and learning to be with it. The return to the present moment happens naturally and instinctively.
By walking for 4 hours we keep the body engaged and busy, and the mind naturally flows between being present/aware and being lost in thought/emotion. When we return to the present moment, or „wake up”, we begin to notice this flow and the constant shift between the states of our mind.
During the consecutive 4 hours/4 days practice we are able to train the „awareness muscle” of the mind, allowing us to gain perspective on our internal stories. By training intensely, the state of awareness becomes more accessible to us after the 4 days, and we begin to develop a new habit of awareness. Throughout the 4 days, we can experience as many as 8000 „waking up” moments. This is equivalent to an intensive boot camp, and our mind begins to shift in the way that it experiences reality.
2. How many people have completed this challenging practice already?
In 2019 we had around 500 people walking with us and for 2020 we estimate around 800-1000. We focus our efforts on facilitating the experience, and not on promotion. Most of the people who have come to walk have heard about us from word of mouth – through friends or online. Many have come back to walk with us again, bringing their friends, and we have become a community, a type of family.
3. To whom do you recommend this practice? What is it good for?
Our mind keeps us living in delusions, or perceived realities. The vast majority of our experience is made up of thoughts that are not based in actual reality – our anger, trauma, anxiety, and fear keep us unhappy in life.
This practice is about YOU and your MIND. YOU and your THOUGHTS.
It’s recommended for everyone, especially those who are interested in improving their quality of life, learning to see, understand, and accept the nature of their mind.
Suffering is a natural part of all of our lives. We all suffer. This practice is about recognizing this phenomenon and letting it happen without confusion or resistance. We instruct people to walk like they don’t care and just let it be. It’s about becoming aware and conscious of how the mind works.
It is a tool to realize all these things going on in the mind. We do not teach that there is anything to do about it or how to change yourself. If the participant would like to explore changing something about their lives, they are free to do so, now that they have become aware of what is actually happening and who they actually are.
And by holding the light inside of you, you can spread the light to others. This is the right way we see for inspiring others and illuminating the environment around us. By having less expectations, less worries, more generosity, more empathy. These shifts in our experience will begin to happen naturally when we simply become aware.
4. Why Inner Walk meditation works well as a mindfulness practice?
There are plenty of practices to choose from. For Western people and their cultural habits, Inner Walk meditation is a suitable method that allows the mindful experience to be more easily accessible.
Western people are habitually very active and busy. Naturally it is reasonable for sitting meditation to be a great challenge for many Westerners.
Inner Walk meditation is easy, simple, and effective. By walking for 4 hours a day, the mind and body naturally begin to relax into the present moment. The technique of the walking creates the „falling asleep” and „waking up” moments automatically, so that as long as the person completes the practice, there is no way to get it wrong.
5. What is your motivation to keep offering and leading people through this experience weekly for free?
I found that the purpose in life is not in chasing moments of pleasure, whether through material things, relationships, or experiences. Pleasure is a kind of addiction that we continuously pursue.
I prefer to choose happiness as a state of being which comes to me by devotion and commitment to support other people’s experiential learning. It provides freedom, and time is not important, as it’s a long term journey. My return on investment is the inspiration and impact that people get through this experience.
What skills you want to have?
To become free from the control our thoughts have over our experience by learning to observe and accept them.
That’s what Inner Walk practice is about.