Thursday, November 17, 2011

Walking

Wanderer, your footsteps are
the road, and nothing more;
wanderer, there is no road,
the road is made by walking.
By walking one makes the road,
and upon glancing behind
one sees the path
that never will be trod again.
Wanderer, there is no road--
Only wakes upon the sea.

-Antonio Machado

I love to take walks.  I suppose it's because, like yoga, walking can be a moving meditation, a way to see where we are resisting life, and a tool to help us to let go of the resisting. As I walked yesterday morning, I was reminded of the beauty of just being: warm sunlight, cool air, the scent of drying leaves, freshly cut grass, the sound of leaf blowers in the distance, hawks calling out high overhead, the scratching sound of squirrels chasing each other around trunks of trees, the soothing sound of gentle breezes moving the tops of trees sending colorful leaves gracefully tumbling to the ground, the way my feet connected with the earth without me having to think about it. Such miracles! We practice walking so that each step quietly unfolds in front of us and so that we can be there to witness that unfolding.  We walk simply to walk and enjoy the miracle of being alive.  We walk to awaken to the conditions of happiness and contentment that exist around us and in us.

Our practice - whether it is walking, breathing, asana, meditation - is a good remedy for our wayward minds and forgetful hearts.  It reminds us to live our lives with our eyes, hearts, and minds open.  It reminds us to really see, experience, and feel without regret or remorse.  Our practice points us towards kindness and love and we endeavor to allow ourselves to unfold into each moment as it arrives. 

I suppose the trick is to trust that the path will unfold with each step taken, not getting stuck where we've been or caught up with where we're headed, just awakening to what is in us and around us NOW.  Practice is creating the art of living beautifully, honestly and with strength and dignity.  If we want to live in peace with ourselves, each other and the earth, we practice dedicating ourselves to walking mindfully through the world.  We can understand this intellectually, we can read about it, hear dharma talks about it, but until we actually practice experiencing it, we cannot know its true meaning. Our life is the practice.

Try it today.  As you walk through your day, be aware of how you're moving, breathing, thinking.  Take the time to pay attention and to become more mindful of the energy you bring to your life and the world.

Until next time...

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
― Thich Nhat Hanh


Walking Meditation 
(in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh)

Wherever we walk, we can practice meditation. This means that we know that we are walking. We walk just for walking. We walk with freedom and solidity, no longer in a hurry. We are present with each step. And when we wish to talk we stop our movement and give our full attention to the other person, to our words and to listening.

Walking in this way should not be a privilege. We should be able to do it in every moment. Look around and see how vast life is, the trees, the white clouds, the limitless sky. Listen to the birds. Feel the fresh breeze. Life is all around and we are alive and healthy and capable of walking in peace. Let us walk as a free person and feel our steps get lighter. Let us enjoy every step we make. Each step is nourishing and healing. As we walk, imprint our gratitude and our love on the earth. We may like to use a mantra as we walk. Taking two or three steps for each in-breath and each out-breath:
Breathing in "I have arrived"; Breathing out "I am home"
Breathing in "In the here"; Breathing out "In the now"Breathing in "I am solid"; Breathing out "I am free"Breathing in "In the ultimate"; Breathing out "I dwell"

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