“I haven’t got any special religion this morning. My God is the God of Walkers. If you walk hard enough, you probably don’t need any other god.”
― Bruce Chatwin
Far away from home
There once was a king in India, a Maharajah, and for his birthday, a decree went out that all the chiefs should bring gifts fit for a king. Some brought fine silk, some brought fancy swords, some brought gold. At the end of the line, came walking a very wrinkled little old man, who walked up from his village in a many days journey by the sea and as he walked up the king son asked: “what gift did you bring for the king?” and the old man, slowly opened his hand to reveal a very beautiful sea shell with spirals of purple and yellow, red and blue.
The king son said: That is not a gift for a king! What kind of gift is that?”
The old man looked at him slowly and said: “Long walk, part of gift”.
Your turn now
It works better in nature; in a park or in a wood, preferably on a day when the sky is blue and the air is fresh. Leave your mobile phone at home or in your car. If you can, wear comfortable clothes and shoes and forget your looks as they will not be of any use. You are out for a walking meditation and, for a few minutes, please just be alone with yourself. Once you arrive at the place you chose, stand still for a short while: allow your body to get acquainted with the surroundings. Then start walking, keeping a pace slightly slower than normal.
Make a few steps in a straight direction and start relaxing your body: relax your neck and shoulder; if it helps, draw a few circles with your head: look at your right, then down, then left, finally up and repeat slowly.
There is no hurry: for a few minutes, you won’t be running after any short-term objective or self-satisfaction.
Put your attention on colors, lights, sounds surrounding you, your body temperature, the breeze caressing your face, your relaxed muscles and start breathing deeply, a bit slower than usual. Then pay a little more attention to the rhythm of your breath. Breathe in deeply and, as you fill your lungs with fresh air, raise slowly your chin. Then breathe out slowly and do it again and again. At a certain point, while you breathe, a smile should appear spontaneously on your lips; do nothing and leave it there. You are now connected to your body.
Now connect with the ground and your walking nature: remember, you have to walk slightly slower than usual. At every step, push your mind in your foot as it makes contact with the ground. It is important that you feel the contact between your foot and the ground at each step, while your mind waves circulate freely between your breath and muscles, the lights, colors, sounds around you.
Now it is time to establish a trustful link with yourself. While you walk, allow your mind to explore: some say that meditation is about emptying your mind while I would say it is the opposite: be open to any kind of thoughts without confronting them. Maintain the connection between your feet and the ground and continue breathing slowly; let your thoughts blow freely like the wind in the open space of your mind and do not cherish one more than another. Be fair to them all: do not get attached to any particular thought. If anything from inside or outside comes harming your mindfulness, acknowledge its presence in a detached way and continue walking and breathing slowly.
Go on like that for a few minutes, step by step, breath after breath, thought after thought; be attentive to what happens and stay connected to everything around and inside you. Then, just slow down until you stop, look around for the last time and finally close your eyes slowly. It is over.
It works better in nature and it does not take much time. All you need is your feet, lungs, thoughts, some fresh air, your chin and lips; it is really simple. Get off your car, let go of your phone and sorrows. Embrace and enjoy your thoughts, breath, smile. Go out for a walk with the best of yourself.
I heard the story that opens this post in a TED talk named “Swallowing the sword, cutting through Fear” by Dan Meyer. If you have a few spare minutes, watch it. Among other things, you will learn how to make the impossible possible and the difference between danger and fear.
I would like to credit Joshi Daniels for the picture titled “En route”, above.
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