"Every path, every street in the world is your walking meditation path."
-- Thich Nhat Hanh
After sharing a few words about the various forms of meditation (it's not Just Sitting after all), I introduced the South Asian "slow motion" walking meditation that I had learned when I was in residence at Insight Meditation Society years ago.
Then we took a slow, conscious, stroll across the glistening wooden floors of the studio at Community Yoga.
It only took a few minutes.
In a couple of instances, I had the privilege of seeing a childlike sense of wonder emerge. I was eyeball to eyeball with a person who had just experienced, at least for a moment or two, what Suzuki Roshi called"Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind."
Meeting their eyes, it was obvious. Their eyes sparkled. During the course of this relatively brief walk, they had been Present to Life in a fuller and more complete way than usual.
I love it when that happens.
Walking and Waking Up
In a materialistic society that stresses speed, production, and the accumulation of goods and status, we have been conditioned to scurry and stagger ahead without being fully aware of the present moment. Distracted, lost in our thoughts much of the time, the miraculous sea of sensations and energies that constitute Life As It Is each moment remains beneath the level of consciousness.
The good news is that it doesn't have to be this way. We don't have to sleepwalk through our lives. We each have the ability to awaken. It can happen with the very next step.
Although the slow motion technique that we share in Monday Morning Mindfulness is a useful and powerful technique, there are many other forms of walking meditation.
Thich Nhat Hahn's Walking Meditation is a classic text on this Practice. There is a transcription of A Guide to Walking Mediation on line as well as a number of YouTube videos available of his instructions. Just googling "walking meditation" will provide a myriad of other instructions from Buddhist teachers.
For those who identify with the Christian tradition, former Trappist Monk, James Finley, Ph.D. devotes a chapter to walking meditation in his book Christian Meditation. There is also an interesting Christian approach shared by Eric Munro on the web at Christian Walking Meditation.
With Every Step
You don't have to go off to a retreat center to practice walking meditation. Each time we walk from here to "there" (which, of course, is always just another here), we have the opportunity to Practice.
Whether we are surrounded by the majesty of nature or walking to our next meeting in the city, with each step we have the opportunity to notice the sensations of our legs moving, to feel our feet as they meet the ground. With each step, we have the opportunity to feel our breath, to expand our awareness to include the sounds we are hearing, to be in touch with the incredible rainbow of colors that our eyes are seeing in any one moment.
With each and every step, we have the opportunity to be Present to the Ongoing Miracle of Life Itself!
How cool is that?