An article written for Id magazine after a visit to Kerala, South India. The Kerala lifestyle is much more harmonious than that of the western world. Here I found that walking meditation can bring calm into a world of chaos.
“Try it, you might be pleasantly surprised”
In a previous post, I mentioned the practice of walking meditation. And, assuming that you never thought this meant closing your eyes and chanting the sacred sound OM, whilst crossing the road, you are still alive to try this.
It has been said, that meditation is not what you think. However, closing our mind from the bombardment of thoughts we are subjected to is not easy. The very moment you ask the mind not to do something, it defiantly does the opposite. For example, try not to think of a pink elephant… I rest my case.
The first secret of meditation is to allow things to be as they are. First we allow the thoughts to be there. It is only by observing a busy mind, that we can discover the occasional pocket of quiet. Such moments of mindfulness can be practiced whilst walking, especially amongst nature. First, ground yourself, by dropping your attention towards your feet; then make a conscious connection to the stability of your whole body.
Make Peace With Your Surroundings
As you walk, become aware of what you are stepping on. What will be the repercussion of your tracks? Notice the fragility of Mother Nature and yet how strong she is. Here you are training your mind to focus on what you choose rather than what it is subjected to. In a sense you are meditating. The next stage is not to follow your train of thought. For example, you may see a pile of rubbish and wonder, who could be so ignorant? You want to act on this thought; you wonder why some people do not care about the environment? Before long you have worked yourself into a frenzy over something you have no control of. Your mediation is shattered.
Instead, Become The Observer
Observe your thoughts, try to nip them from flowering into any form of story, watch each thought come and go, do not become emotionally attached to it. This does not mean that you don’t care about what you see; here you are practicing none action as opposed to action. Such a shift in our consciousness teaches us to disengage from our mind’s habitual cycles. It creates a space where the mind can de-clutter.
Above all, it is a way of developing a powerful skill which can be called upon later in your daily activities. By learning to control your mind in this way, instead of trying to fight it, who knows you might just find some peace.
Oh, and if you do feel the urge to close your eyes, whilst bathing in the bliss of meditation, please make sure you’re not crossing the road whilst doing so.