Although she'd never been instructed in "formal" walking practice, she obviously hadn't needed it. Linda was experienced in meditation, and she had been an aerobics instructor for years. This woman knew how to bring her full attention into her body -- and ZAP! She was there!
As she spoke of her upright posture feeling regal, and the walking itself feeling sacred, I thought, "Zen Mind, Beginners Mind. I love it when this happens. "
I'd experience that same glow, the look of wonder in a person's eyes back at Community Yoga and Wellness Center a few years ago. After a brief instruction in South Asian slow-walking meditation, she and I walked slowly across the polished wooden floors of the studio for about ten minutes. That's all it took.
The same glow, that look of wonder in her eyes. A shift in consciousness had occurred. At that moment, she was Present to Life in a fuller and more complete way.
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 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 walking 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, walking to our next meeting in the city, or just walking to the kitchen, with each step we have the opportunity to notice the sensations of our legs as they move, to feel our feet as they meet the ground. With each step, we have the opportunity to stand upright and to breath consciously and fully. Grounded in the sensation of breath and body, we can expand our awareness to include the myriad sounds we are hearing, the air moving across our bodies. With each step we can get out of our heads and come to our senses. We can open our eyes to the miraculous rainbow of colors that surround us.
With each and every step, we have the opportunity to be Present to the ongoing miracle of Life As It Is!
How cool is that?