“Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere”.
~ Thich Naht Hanh,
Viatnamese Buddhist Monk, poet and peace activist
We often do not realise the moments that we are missing – the senses that we are not truly using, the people we are not being truly present with, the sounds and sights and sensations that are changing every second. Life is found in the present moment.
This quote came from one of the books I’m reading “mindfulness is simply being aware of what is happening right now without wishing it were different: enjoying the pleasant without holding on when it changes (which it will): being with the unpleasant without fearing it will always be this way (which it won’t)” – James Baraz
And with mindfulness, comes the realisation of impermanence. Literally nothing is permanent: not pain, not any feelings, not the bad ones or the good ones. So mindfulness taught me to treasure the good feelings and sensations, and to sit with the more difficult feelings and sensations, and I know how to deal with them when they arrive. The best I can do, is to be with the present moment: mindfulness can touch feelings in a way that can transform even fear and sadness. There are a lot of buddhist teachings around mindfulness, and one thing I wanted to talk about was bringing mindfulness into every day life.
Today one of my friends told me they couldn’t understand how I could do a walking meditation! So I told them, you can meditate to everything. Meditating is about being in the present moment, sensing all around you and within you at that moment and being in that vast sense of awareness – knowing the richness and beauty of life for all that it is. It is about encountering and recognising feelings and thoughts when they arise but not being caught up in them, and instead, actually living!
Before the walking meditation, think about a handwashing meditation – how often are you thinking of something, when you are washing your hands? How would it feel, instead, to open the tap and allow the water to run over your hands: to feel the coolness or warmth, the softness of the water as it trickles through your fingers, how it feels to rub your palms together and how the soap feels as it froths in your hands? How often do we notice how it feels to walk on the earth, how each step feels? We have a million of these moments every day. I have so many of these moments every day – and now, I just sit or walk with these moments, when I can, where I can, and notice the present moment.
When I went to the park recently, I just sat there, and looked at the trees before me. The lake, the stillness of it, the flowers, the people sitting around and playing. These little moments are our world.
Today I did a walking meditation. I walked around the block of flats with a rollator, only stopping twice to sit down. This was my second time going out: last time I had to stop and rest many times. It is a very short distance, but for someone who could not walk more than 2 steps without pain, this was amazing.
I got strength from mindfulness, from taking each moment as it came. I noticed so many things I hadn’t before, like how many footsteps I took on each in-breath and out-breath, how the soles of my feet within my shoes felt when I walked on the pavement, the softness and slight coolness of the breeze on my face, the sudden warmth as the sun came out and touched my face, the whooshing noise of the cars as they went past. It was wonderful.
I am so lucky to have discovered mindfulness in this way, and to have seen calmness and peace within myself is not only for me – it changes the lives of others around too, which is an even more wonderful thing.
“I have arrived. I am home. My destination is in each step” – Thich Nhat Hanh