There is a path I walk often. It is near my house. It goes through the woods, wanders along a babbling creek and is just about 2 miles long. On any given day there are joggers and runners, dog walkers and regular walkers, talkers, bicyclists and others. There is lots of wildlife scampering around. Bird song never stops. The wild raspberry is blooming, scattering bright splotches of magenta everywhere. It’s usually busy on this path.
Today as I walked I realized there was no one else on the path. I had never experienced that before. It had been raining, and while not hot, it was humid.
As I came to the one mile mark, also the point where I turn around, I decided I was going to turn the rest of the walk into a walking meditation. I had been reading about walking meditation, with bowing, and it seemed the time had arrived for me to do it. I was alone. It was quiet.
There are many formal ways to do a walking meditation with bowing. But, I am not really one who likes to do things so formally. I made the walk my own.
Why do a walking meditation? Why seek time for reflection, introspection? Because life is so full of being fast and busy, of things and people being important. Daily life is about time, the clock, appointments, obligations. There are schedules and deadlines. There is a sense of needing to move and produce faster. Our minds get lost in thoughts of hopes, dreams, desires and wants. We live off lists of things to do, things to remember, things to get, things to experience..things. We dwell in emotions of sadness, disappointment, happiness, excitement, anger, frustration, joy, anticipation, envy and love. Things happen to us and we take them personally when they don’t have anything to do with us. There is noise and activity.
I get lost in that stuff.
So now, here I was. In the midst of nature. Alone. It seemed the time had arrived.
At first I just stood. In yoga this pose is called tadasana. Tadasana grounds you. Helps you to be focused. It helps you to become aware and present.
Then I walked 10 steps and stopped. I put my hands together and bowed slightly, expressing out loud my gratitude for something. 10 more steps. Bow. Express gratitude. For 3/4 of a mile I did this. The final quarter mile I replaced gratitude with the Metta (Loving Kindness ) prayer.
During one of my bowing pauses I spoke out loud of being grateful for the practice of “right thinking”. This is the idea that what we think impacts our heart and mind as well as our physical being. If we think bad thoughts that is reflected in our actions and well being. If we engage in right thinking we are uplifted, healthy in body, heart and mind. Either “bad/wrong thinking” or “right thinking” spreads out from us, affecting the world around us, and the well being of others too.
For a mile I took 10 steps, paused, bowed and felt gratefulness for a variety of things. I named a lot of people and things…. And there are hundreds and hundreds more to acknowledge. I removed myself from superficial things. I found on this quiet, empty path, a mile long interlude to refocus, reconnect, re-evaluate, rediscover, reinstate what is important. To name gratitude and honor all there is in life and the world to be thankful for. For a mile I gave up wallowing in busy-ness, desires, hopes, emotions, time, responsibility, division and separateness and gave life to slowness, softness, mindfulness, appreciation, recognition. To gratitude.
Ten steps at a time.
(Metta, also called the Loving Kindness Prayer.
There are several interpretations.
You begin with your self, then name others.)