Further to our discussion yesterday on How to be with what is: a video guide to enlightenment today the guide to enlightenment is enhanced through a presence practise.
Walking Meditation – An Invitation Towards Enlightenment
Walking meditation is a way to reveal the embodiment of the earth’s energy. It is the gentle, though steady, opportunity to the unfolding of awareness, the way to awakening of embodied and relational energy. It is a journey toward enlightenment. Through the practice of walking meditation, presence is cultivated and we begin to realise that true presence is available in any moment. We begin to see enlightenment as attainable in our daily lives, that there can be opportunities to be with what is: to see what is deeply enriched in the true nature of life. Through practice, we “dwell in profound communication with life” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1991).
Further, walking meditation differs from seated meditation, as it is the cultivation of the “embodied experience in each moment, allowing you to bring your body, mind, and heart together as you move through life” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1991). Walking meditation allows us to “enjoy each step on the earth”, to bring a paradox to meditative practice, whereby practicing presence is no longer a cultivation, but rather an enjoyment, a peaceful pleasure.
The idea of walking meditation is that without destination or aim. It is to simply be in each and every moment. We are not walking toward peace, but rather in peace. There is no rush, no time, no craving, no need for uncertainty or expectation, and no focus on what should be, what could be, what is not, or what was not. Instead, to walk in mindful meditation is to be alive. To feel and to realize the beauty and majesty, the awe in what is freely given. Walking meditation is indeed for one to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love.
10-step Guide to Enlightenment
Now… “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.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2017).
- Take a moment to empty your mind. Stop. Breathe in then out, long blissful breaths. If anything strong comes to mind that may have the power to interrupt you, now is the moment to write it down. Thoughts on paper can be returned to.
- Select an outdoor walking path of approximately 10-30 paces in length. We suggest outdoors as it brings us toward our connection with the earth. We suggest a short path as this removes the need for path negotiation.
- As you begin in a still stance, attend to the breath. Notice if it is heavy, quick, shallow. Begin to regulate the breath, in…one, two, three…out… one, two, three….
- As the breath regulates, notice your body. Is there a pit in your stomach? A tightening in the shoulders? Are you legs heavy, eyes tired? Simply notice, with a nonjudgmental mind. It is neither good nor bad, it simply is.
- Remember the breath. In…one, two, three…out… one, two, three…
- With a slow and noticed pace, begin to walk. If you feel you are able, slightly raise the corners of your mouth forming a smile. With each lifting of the foot, breath in, notice sensation, feeling, what is arising? Remember, it is neither good nor bad, it simply is. With each downward placing of the foot, let go, breath out. What ever is, it shall be. In this moment, it is you and your breath – in…one, two, three…out… one, two, three…
- As you slowly move along your path, continue to mindfully bring presence to sensations that arise, notice, acknowledge, and then return to the breath. If thoughts arise, as they are sure to do, simply notice them, perhaps acknowledging them aloud. Perhaps following their path history: breathing, tightening, worry, “I need to”, “I should be”, “I was meant to”…. With compassion, bring yourself back to your next step. No matter where your mind has been, or where it is headed, you still have right now. This moment… Just you, right here, in this wondrous place.
- You and your breath – in…one, two, three…out… one, two, three…
- If it helps repeat:
“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”
- With each step, within each breath in, light surrounds, energy embodies you. May joy and peace fill your heart. May you feel the breeze’s kiss. May you absorb the colours of the earth, and may your moments reconcile body, mind, and spirit. Peace, I leave with you; peace, I give you.
It is only with repeated practice of mindful meditation that the unfolding of awareness, the awakening of embodied and relational energy and information flow within and between (Siegel, 2017), or enlightenment is possible. Consider this walking meditation as a daily practice in order to cultivate presence and to cultivate a grounded sense of being to your everyday life.
If this daily, or even weekly cultivation of presence seems, as it can be, too overwhelming, or perhaps if your mind finds it easier to cultivate presence among others, a more formal class setting may be more encouraging. At Celia Roberts Retreat in Brookfield, Qld, we offer meditation retreats throughout the year enabling you to experience and to learn how to cultivate presence in the company of a senior teacher.
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