If this is so, then modern life is moving faster
It was one of those days when even a few moments of a clear, calm and open awareness were greatly appreciated. Most of the time I was immersed in the the high volume prattle of discursive monkey-mind.
And over again.
Fortunately, after the bells sounded, I had places to go and things to do around town. Since they were all within walking distance, I could get some needed cardiovascular exercise as well. It was a no-brainer. I left the car keys on the counter and headed out on foot.
I'm so grateful that I made this choice.
Mindful of body and breath, awash in the sensations of sight and sound and smell, I was again made aware of the Ongoing Miracle of life as it is. I felt a great gratitude for the practice of walking meditation in my life.
Sitting, Standing, Walking, Laying Down
Walking meditation is widespread among the various traditions of Buddhism. Although in American Buddhism today many folks may consider only sitting meditation to be the "real thing," this has not always been the case historically. In fact, there are four postures of meditation cited in classical Buddhist literature: sitting, standing, walking, and laying down. There are ancient statues and drawings of each throughout Asia.
At Monday Morning Mindfulness we practice the "slow walking" form of meditation that I learned at Insight Meditation Society back in the 1980's. Focusing on the sensations of the feet and lower legs, moving very slowly and deliberately, a mental noting practice is used to engage the discursive mind in reinforcing that focus rather than drifting off into endless streams of thought. The mental note can be as simple as "stepping, stepping" with each step or breaking down each step into three components. I was taught "lifting, moving, placing," but over the years I came to use "lifting, placing, shifting"to accentuate the quite exquisite sensation of transferring my weight from foot to foot. (I think that emerged as a result of practicing tai chi years ago.)
Of course, walking in extreme slow motion isn't really practical outside the privacy of the practice studio or your own home or back yard. Although you may be able to pull it off in a public park as well, you may draw a lot of strange looks while walking down Main Street or at the mall.
Thankfully, you don't have to walk in slow motion to practice. Just getting out of our heads to place our attention on the sensations in our bodies, the contact of feet on the ground, and then expanding our awareness to include the visual, auditory, and olfactory fields of our experience can change the quality of our consciousness and alter the nature of our reality.
The bottom line?
Although walking through the grandeur of Mother Nature along a country road is certainly quite wonderful, anytime we are on our feet moving through time and space we have the opportunity to get out of our heads and into our bodies, to come to our senses.
Even getting up from your desk and walking to the door can be an opportunity to Practice. You can feel the contact of your feet on the floor, feel the texture of doorknob on the skin of your hand as you open it. With Mindfulness that door may open into the Miraculous.
(I mused about introducing walking meditation for the first time to a couple of folks at MMM in "Step by Step" awhile ago. )