It is no secret that we live in a culture of busy. Of time poor and speed orientated process’ in which we focus so much on what should be, what could be, what is not, or what was not, we forget what is. I know that I for one often, and quite literally, forget to stop and smell the flowers. Yet, in this culture of busy, is it possible to be with what is? Is it possible to cultivate presence on the journey towards enlightenment?
Buddhist and Yogic traditions have been unfolding in the west now for over half a century, inspiring and enriching our culture in much needed notions of peace and joy, understanding and wisdom based in compassion. Indeed, Global spiritual leader, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh eloquently emphasises that “Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by the future…” Nonetheless, so too Thich Nhat Hanh acknowledges that “When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we being to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love” (2011).
This seemingly elusive path to enlightenment is attainable in our daily lives. We can indeed learn to be with what is. We can learn to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace, and love, and to know that the unfolding of awareness, the awakening of embodied and relational energy and information flow within and between (Siegel, 2017), is possible: albeit, it needs a retreat to presence. That is, a coming back in mindfulness practice as cultivated through meditation, of which one such example is the practice of walking meditation, of which I will elaborate and explore in detail tomorrow.
The Benefits of Meditation on the Path to Enlightenment
The benefits of meditation, as based in Eastern Tradition are innumerable. Indeed, the cultivation of Buddha’s insight came from his early years of walking. As such, it was he who first taught walking meditation (Silananda, 1996). Further, many great teachers such as Dipa Ma attained the first stage of enlightenment, that is true peaceful presence, through walking meditations. In a modern sense enlightenment is not merely the absence of physical, emotional, and social suffering, rather it is the presence of an integrated sense of focus, resourcefulness, and perspective that broadens resilience, nurtures growth, and creates an open state of mind that leads to a greater sense of compassion and respect (See Siegel, 2010, pp. 1-5). This then, a goal we may all aspire to in order to attain those much-needed notions of peace and joy.
Additionally, and more specifically, the benefits of meditation include:
- Slowed thinking leading to rest and thus the ability to “stop and appreciate what is here, what we have, and the deep joy in simply being” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1991).
- A liberation of mind that empowers one in continued change toward enlightenment. The more we intentionally practice presence the more instinctive presence becomes. Allowing enlightenment to become an intrinsic part of being (See Siegel, 2010).
- Studies in modern science (See Siegel, 2009; Van Der Kolk, d.; DeAngelis, 2014; Berkley, 2017) reveal that with the mindful practice of meditation there is an ability for our brains to physically reorganize past structures (known as neuroplasticity). This allows our brains innate ability to grow in:
- Higher functioning
- Physical regulation
- Emotional regulation
- Positive energy states including
- An ability to approach rather than to withdraw from challenge
- Further studies have shown mindfulness meditations to have demonstrable effects on immune function; that is of course, that which leads to preventative health.
In mentioning the benefits of meditation, it cannot be negated, that it is only with repeated practice that mindful meditation that the unfolding of awareness, the awakening of embodied and relational energy and information flow within and between (Siegel, 2017), is possible. This then, where our discussion of walking meditation unfolds.
Walking Meditation – An Invitation Towards Enlightenment
A Video Guide
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), 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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