Walking Meditations, by Gail Snyder

The Earth is sacred and we touch her with each step.  ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

As a new arrival to this world, just delivered from our mother’s body, each one of us knew to do the exact same thing as our first action: Draw a breath. We didn’t dither around in our heads worrying because we’d never breathed before and what if we did it wrong or forgot to keep doing it? We were entirely attentive to what needed to happen right now—inhale, exhale, repeat—and those lungfuls of air made us feel safely anchored in our new body, centered, belonging, all our senses alert and humming.

Gradually, though, as we’ve grown up and experienced life with all its accumulations of traumas, sorrows, anxieties, with minds that bounce us back and forth between past guilt and new worries about the future, we’ve strayed far afield from that pure awareness. How can we get back to what we knew as babies?

It’s a matter of being aware of this life as it’s happening, Henry Shukman, Roshi at Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, says.  And he tells this story: “One master, asked what Zen was, replied, ‘When I sit, I sit; when I stand, I stand; when I walk, I walk; and when I arrive, I arrive.’ The student said, ‘Big deal—so do I.’ The master said, ‘No! When you sit, you’re already standing; when you stand, you’re already walking; when you’re walking, you’re already arriving and when you arrive, you’re already leaving.’ To be aware of our walking—as we walk—is to learn to actually experience and appreciate our life as it’s going on. No need for thinking about whatever may be coming next. Just this step is enough. It’s a huge thing.”

When we do walking meditation, Henry says, “We can pay close attention to the soles of the feet as they make contact with the ground, and the way the weight moves across the foot, and how the foot moves when we take a step. All of this helps us to settle in the present moment.”

To continue reading this article, written by Gail Snyder for the March 2018 Issue of Local Flavor, CLICK HERE.

 


Originally published as Walking Meditations in Local Flavor Magazine, March 2018 issue.
Image: People walking by SadahamYathra, CCo Public Domain.
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