How to Master the Ancient Art of Walking Meditation in Modern Life: A Field Guide from the Pioneering Buddhist Teacher Sylvia Boorstein

Art from What Color Is the Wind? by Anne HerbautsBut what if the peripatetic body could be an instrument not of moving the mind however of stilling the mind in order to apprehend truth, external and internal, more plainly? What if strolling could be not a consecration however a crusade?

A half and a century later on, Rebecca Solnit chose up the subject in her ambulatory classic: “I think that the mind, like the feet, works at about 3 miles an hour. Perched partway in time between Thoreau and Solnit, Thomas Bernhard twined these beliefs in his elegant meditation on walking, believing, and the paradox of self-reflection: “There is absolutely nothing more revealing than to see a thinking person walking, simply as there is nothing more revealing than to see a strolling person thinking.”

That, naturally, is what Eastern traditions have been providing for millennia. How to do it– how to master the ancient art of strolling meditation and incorporate it into a modern-day life, into your regular rhythm of being– is what the excellent Buddhist teacher and psychotherapist Sylvia Boorstein details in a part of her amusing, poignant, entirely revelatory 1996 guidebook to mindfulness practice, Dont Just Do Something, Sit There (town library).

Sylvia BoorsteinBoorstein– who reached Buddhism through the website of political activism in the 1960s and went on to assist leader the ancient Eastern custom as a psychotherapeutic and spiritual practice in the West, and whose teachings have actually changed my own life– details the standard psychological and material framework of walking meditation:

Choose a place to walk back and forth that is straightforward and personal– one where the strolling course can be ten to twenty feet long. If you stroll outdoors, find a secluded spot so that you wont feel uncomfortable. If you walk indoors, discover a furniture-free section of your space or an empty corridor. You can devote all your attention to the feelings in your feet as you walk.
This is attentiveness practice and tranquillity practice, not specialized walking practice. You dont require to stroll in any unusual way.
Begin your period of practice by standing still for a few minutes at one end of your strolling course. Some individuals begin by focusing their attention on the top of the head, then move their attention along the body through the head, shoulders, arms, torso, and legs, and end by feeling the sensations of the feet linking with the earth. Allow your attention to rest on the sensations in the soles of the feet.

Art by Shaun Tan for an unique edition of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales.From this psychological launchpad commences the actual motion, the intent of which Boorstein takes care to protect from the momentum of our daily biped habits:

” Go out and walk. It is the glory of life.” Art by Maira Kalman from My Favorite Things.Boorstein adds an important disclaimer– a disclaimer and an assurance, essential for us human animals so conditioned by modern-day life to overdo, so nervous to overachieve:.

Start to walk forward. Keep your eyes open so that you stay balanced. I often start with a normal walking speed and expect that the minimal scope of the walk, and its repetitious regularity, will naturally reduce my body into a slower pace. Slowing down occurs all by itself. I think it happens due to the fact that the mind, with less stimuli to process, moves into a lower equipment. Most likely the greed impulse, ever on the lookout for something novel to play with, surrenders when it realizes youre major about not going anywhere.
The view is descriptive and breathtaking when you stroll at a strolling rate. When your walking slows, the view is more subjective and localized. If we might see running readouts, like subtitles, of the mental notes that accompany strolling, they may appear like this:
Walking pace: “Step … action … action … action …
arms moving … head moving … smiling … looking …
stopping … turning … bird chirping …
stepping … stepping … questioning what time it is …
believing this is tiring … stepping … stepping …
swinging arms … feeling warm …
sensation cool … Im glad Im in the shade …
deciding to remain in the shade … smiling … stepping …”.
Slower rate: “Pressure on feet … pressure … pressure vanishing …
pressure reappearing … pressure moving …
lightness … heaviness … lightness … heaviness … lightness …
Hey! Now Ive got it! Now Im finally present! …
Whoops, Ive been sidetracked … Start once again …
Pressure on feet … pressure moving … lightness …
heaviness … lightness … heaviness …
hearing … warm … cool …”.

Start with thirty minutes … Begin and set the timer … As you walk note how many times the impulse to inspect the time develops. Simply stroll.

Set down partway in time between Thoreau and Solnit, Thomas Bernhard twined these beliefs in his charming meditation on strolling, believing, and the paradox of self-reflection: “There is absolutely nothing more revealing than to see a thinking individual walking, just as there is nothing more revealing than to see a walking individual thinking.”

Its just different. Everything changes, regardless of speed, and direct firsthand experience of temporality can take place while you are walking simply as much as while you are stepping deliberately and slowly.

Enhance with The Wind in the Willows author Kenneth Grahames century-old meditation on walking as imaginative fuel and Lauren Elkins splendid modern-day manifesto for peripatetic empowerment, then revisit the terrific Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh on how to do hugging meditation and appreciate Sylvia Boorsteins reading of Pablo Nerudas magnificent ode to silence.

Choose a location to stroll back and forth that is private and uncomplicated– one where the strolling course can be 10 to twenty feet long. You can commit all your attention to the feelings in your feet as you stroll.
I often begin with a normal strolling speed and anticipate that the restricted scope of the walk, and its repetitious regularity, will naturally alleviate my body into a slower pace. Start with thirty minutes … Set the timer and begin … As you stroll note how numerous times the impulse to examine the time emerges.

Mindful, with Borges, that time is the substance we are made from, Boorstein ends with a similar antidote to our temporal stress and anxiety:.