Thich Nhat Hanh’s Walking Meditation

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The late Thich Nhat Hanh emphasised the follow of conscious strolling as a profound approach to deepen our reference to our physique and the earth. Learn on and learn to breathe, take a conscious step, and are available again to your true house.

Strolling meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh throughout a Day of Mindfulness at Deer Park Monastery. Picture by Don Farber.

Many people stroll for the only real goal of getting from one place to a different. Now suppose we’re strolling to a sacred place. We’d stroll quietly and take every light step with reverence. I suggest that we stroll this fashion each time we stroll on the earth. The earth is sacred and we contact her with every step. We ought to be very respectful, as a result of we’re strolling on our mom. If we stroll like that, then each step might be grounding, each step might be nourishing.

We will prepare ourselves to stroll with reverence. Wherever we stroll, whether or not it’s the railway station or the grocery store, we’re strolling on the earth and so we’re in a holy sanctuary. If we bear in mind to stroll like that, we could be nourished and discover solidity with every step.

To stroll on this manner, we’ve to note every step. Every step made in mindfulness can carry us again to the right here and the now. Go slowly. Mindfulness lights our manner. We don’t rush. With every breath we could take only one step. We could have run all our life, however now we don’t should run anymore. That is the time to cease operating. To be grounded within the earth is to really feel its solidity with every step and know that we’re proper the place we’re speculated to be.

Every conscious breath, every conscious step, reminds us that we’re alive on this stunning planet. We don’t want anything. It’s great sufficient simply to be alive, to breathe in, and to make one step. We have now arrived at the place actual life is accessible—the current second. If we breathe and stroll on this manner, we turn out to be as stable as a mountain.

There are these of us who’ve a snug home, however we don’t really feel that we’re at house. We don’t need for something, and but we don’t really feel at house. All of us are searching for our stable floor, our true house. The earth is our true house and it’s at all times there, beneath us and round us. Breathe, take a conscious step, and arrive. We’re already at house.

Uniting Physique and Thoughts

We will’t be grounded in our physique if our thoughts is some place else. We every have a physique that has been given us by the earth. This physique is a surprise. In our every day lives, we could spend many hours forgetting the physique. We get misplaced in our laptop or in our worries, concern, or busyness. Strolling meditation makes us entire once more. Solely once we are related with our physique are we really alive. Therapeutic will not be doable with out that connection. So stroll and breathe in such a manner you could join together with your physique deeply.

Strolling meditation unites our physique and our thoughts. We mix our respiratory with our steps. After we breathe in, we could take two or three steps. After we breathe out, we could take three, 4, or 5 steps. We concentrate to what’s comfy for our physique.

Our respiratory has the operate of serving to our physique and thoughts to settle down. As we stroll, we are able to say, Inhaling, I calm my physique. Respiratory out, I carry peace into my physique. Calming the breath calms the physique and reduces any ache and rigidity.

Strolling meditation is at the beginning a follow to carry physique and thoughts collectively peacefully.

After we stroll like this, with our breath, we carry our physique and our thoughts again collectively. Our physique and our thoughts are two facets of the identical actuality. If we take away our thoughts from our physique, our physique is lifeless. If we take our physique out of our thoughts, our thoughts is lifeless. Don’t suppose that one could be if the opposite will not be.

Strolling meditation is at the beginning a follow to carry physique and thoughts collectively peacefully. It doesn’t matter what we do, the place to begin is to settle down, as a result of when our thoughts and our physique have calmed down, we see extra clearly. After we see our anger or unhappiness clearly, it dissipates. We start to really feel extra compassion for ourselves and others. We will solely really feel this when physique and thoughts are united.

Strolling meditation shouldn’t be work. It is vitally nice, particularly within the early morning when the air remains to be very recent. After we stroll mindfully, we see the wonder and the surprise of the earth round us, and we get up. We see that we live a really great second. If our thoughts is caught and preoccupied with our worries and struggling, we miss this stuff. We will worth every step we take, and every step brings us happiness. After we look once more on the earth and the sky, we see that the earth is an excellent actuality.

We Are Not Separate From the Earth

We expect that the earth is the earth and we’re one thing outdoors of the earth. However in truth we’re within the earth. Think about that the earth is the tree and we’re a leaf. The earth will not be the atmosphere, one thing outdoors of us that we have to look after. The earth is us. Simply as your dad and mom, ancestors, and lecturers are inside you, the earth is in you. Caring for the earth, we maintain ourselves.

After we see that the earth is not only the atmosphere, that the earth is in us, at that second you’ll be able to have actual communion with the earth. But when we see the earth as solely the atmosphere, with ourselves within the heart, then we solely wish to do one thing for the earth to ensure that us to outlive. However that isn’t sufficient. That could be a dualistic manner of seeing.

We have now to follow taking a look at our planet not simply as matter, however as a residing and sentient being. The universe, the solar, and the celebrities have contributed many components to the earth, and once we look into the earth we see that it’s a really stunning flower containing the presence of the entire universe. After we look into our personal bodily formation, we’re manufactured from the identical components because the planet. It has made us. The earth and the universe are within us.

After we take conscious steps on the earth, our physique and thoughts unite, and we unite with the earth. The earth gave delivery to us and the earth will obtain us once more. Nothing is misplaced. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. We don’t want to attend till after our physique has disintegrated to return to Mom Earth. We’re going again to Mom Earth at each second. Every time we breathe, at any time when we step, we’re returning to the earth. Even once we scratch ourselves, pores and skin cells will fall and return to the earth.

Inhaling, I do know Mom Earth is in me. Respiratory out, I do know Mom Earth is in me.

Earth contains the life sphere and the ambiance. So that you don’t have to attend till you die to return to Mom Earth, since you are already in Mom Earth. We have now to return to take refuge in our stunning planet. I do know that earth is my house. I don’t must die with the intention to return to Mom Earth. I’m in Mom Earth proper now, and Mom Earth is in me.

You could like to do this train when you stroll: Inhaling, I do know Mom Earth is in me. Respiratory out, I do know Mom Earth is in me.

Paul Tillich, the German theologian, mentioned, “God will not be an individual however not lower than an individual.” That is true of the earth as properly. It’s greater than an individual. It has given delivery to tens of millions of species, together with human beings. Many historical cultures believed there was a deity that inhabited the solar, they usually worshiped the solar. However after I do strolling meditation and touching the earth, I would not have that type of dualistic view. I’m not worshiping the earth as a separate deity outdoors of myself.

I consider the earth as a bodhisattva, an awesome and compassionate being. A bodhisattva is a being who has awakening, understanding, and love. Any residing being who has awakening, peace, understanding, and love could be known as a bodhisattva, however a bodhisattva doesn’t should be a human being. After we look right into a tree, we see the tree is recent, it nourishes life, and it provides shade and sweetness. It’s a spot of refuge for thus many birds and different creatures. A bodhisattva will not be one thing that’s up within the clouds far-off from us. Bodhisattvas are throughout us. A youngster who has love, who has freshness, who has understanding, who provides us loads of happiness, is a bodhisattva. The pine standing within the backyard provides us pleasure, provides us oxygen, and makes life extra stunning.

After we say that earth is a stupendous bodhisattva, this isn’t our creativeness. It’s a indisputable fact that the earth is giving life and he or she could be very stunning. The bodhisattva will not be a separate spirit inhabiting the earth; we should always transcend that concept. There will not be two separate issues—the earth, which is a cloth factor, and the spirit of the earth, a nonmaterial factor that inhabits the earth.

Our planet earth is itself a real, nice bodhisattva. It embodies so many nice virtues. The earth is stable—it might probably carry so many issues. It’s affected person—it takes its time shifting glaciers and carving rocks. The earth doesn’t discriminate. We will throw aromatic flowers on the earth, or we are able to throw urine and excrement on the earth, and the earth purifies it. The earth has an awesome capability to endure, and it provides a lot to nourish us—water, shelter, meals, and air to breathe.

After we acknowledge the virtues, the expertise, the great thing about the earth bodhisattva, love is born. You’re keen on the earth and the earth loves you. You’ll do something for the well-being of the earth. And the earth will do something on your well-being. That’s the pure end result of the true loving relationship. The earth is not only your atmosphere, to be taken care of or worshiped; you’re one another. Each conscious step can manifest that love.

With every step the earth heals us, and with every step we heal the earth.

A part of love is duty. In Buddhism, we converse of meditation as an act of awakening. To awaken is to be awake to one thing. We should be awake to the truth that the earth is in peril and residing species on earth are additionally in peril. After we stroll mindfully, every step reminds us of our duty. We have now to guard the earth with the identical dedication we’ve to guard our household and ourselves. The earth can nourish and heal us but it surely suffers as properly. With every step the earth heals us, and with every step we heal the earth.

After we stroll mindfully on the face of the earth, we’re grounded in her generosity and we can’t assist however be grateful. The entire earth’s qualities of endurance, stability, creativity, love, and nondiscrimination can be found to us once we stroll reverently, conscious of our connection.

Let the Buddha Stroll

I’ve a pupil named Sister Tri Hai who spent a very long time in jail. She was a peace activist I knew since she was in center faculty. She got here to the USA to check English literature earlier than going again to Vietnam and changing into a nun. When she was out within the streets advocating for peaceable change, she was arrested and put in jail.

In the course of the day, the jail guards didn’t like her to sit down in meditation. Once they see somebody sitting in a jail cell solidly and stably, it feels a bit threatening. So she waited till the lights had gone out, and he or she would sit like an individual who has freedom. In outer look she was caught within the jail. However inside she was utterly free. If you sit like that, the partitions will not be there. You’re in contact with the entire universe. You may have extra freedom than individuals outdoors who’re imprisoning themselves of their agitation.

Sister Tri Hai additionally practiced strolling meditation in her jail cell. It was very small—after seven steps she needed to flip round and are available again. Sitting and strolling mindfully gave her house inside. She taught different prisoners in her cell find out how to sit and find out how to breathe so they might endure much less. They had been in a chilly cell, however by their strolling meditation, they had been grounded within the stable great thing about the earth.

These of us who can stroll on the earth, who can stroll in freedom, ought to do it. If we rush from one place to a different, with out training strolling meditation, it’s such a waste. What’s strolling for? Strolling is for nothing. It’s only for strolling. That’s our final goal—strolling within the spring breeze. We have now to stroll in order that we’ve happiness, in order that we could be a free particular person. We have now to let go of every thing, and never search or lengthy or seek for something. There’s sufficient for us to be glad.

All of the Buddhist tales inform us that the Buddha had loads of happiness when he sat, when he walked, when he ate. We have now some expertise of this. We all know there are moments once we’re strolling or sitting that we’re so glad. We additionally know that there are occasions, due to sickness or bodily incapacity or as a result of our thoughts is caught elsewhere, once we can’t stroll freely just like the Buddha. There are these of us who would not have using our legs. There are these of us who’re in jail, like Sister Tri Hai, and solely have just a few ft of house. However we are able to all invite the Buddha to stroll for us. When we’ve problem, we are able to go away that problem behind and let the Buddha stroll for us. Shortly the solidity of the earth can assist us return to ourselves.

If we sit mindfully, if we stroll mindfully and reverently on the earth, we’ll generate the energies of mindfulness, of peace, and of compassion in each physique and thoughts.

We’re manufactured from physique and thoughts. Our physique can radiate the vitality of peace and compassion. Our thoughts additionally has vitality. The vitality of the thoughts could be highly effective. If the vitality of the thoughts is crammed with concern and anger, it may be very harmful. But when we sit mindfully, if we stroll mindfully and reverently on the earth, we’ll generate the energies of mindfulness, of peace, and of compassion in each physique and thoughts. This type of vitality can heal and rework.

For those who stroll reverently on the earth with two different individuals, soaking within the earth’s solidity, you’ll all three radiate and profit from the vitality of peace and compassion. If 300 individuals sit or stroll like this, each generates the vitality of mindfulness, peace, and compassion, and everybody within the group receives that therapeutic vitality. The vitality of peace and mindfulness doesn’t come from elsewhere. It comes from us. It comes from our capability to breathe, to stroll, to sit down mindfully and acknowledge the wonders of life.

If you stroll reverently and solidly on this earth and I do the identical, we ship out waves of compassion and peace. It’s this compassion that may heal ourselves, one another, and this stunning inexperienced earth.

Meditation: Strolling on the Earth

Stroll slowly, in a relaxed manner. If you follow this fashion, your steps are these of essentially the most safe particular person on earth. Really feel the gravity that makes each step connect to the earth. With every step, you’re grounded on the earth.

One approach to follow strolling meditation is to breathe in and take one step, and focus all of your consideration on the only real of your foot. If in case you have not arrived totally, one hundred pc within the right here and the now, don’t take the following step. I’m positive you’ll be able to take a step like that as a result of there’s buddhanature in you. Buddhanature is the capability of being conscious of what’s going on. It’s what lets you acknowledge what you’re doing within the present second and to say to your self, I’m alive, I’m taking a step. Anybody can do that. There’s a buddha in each certainly one of us, and we should always enable the buddha to stroll.

Whereas strolling, follow acutely aware respiratory by counting steps. Discover every breath and the variety of steps you are taking as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Don’t attempt to management your respiratory. Enable your lungs as a lot time and air as they want, and easily discover what number of steps you are taking as your lungs refill and what number of you are taking as they empty, conscious of each your breath and your steps. The hyperlink is the counting.

If you stroll uphill or downhill, the variety of steps per breath will change. All the time observe the wants of your lungs. You could discover that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. You would possibly discover that you simply take three steps throughout your in-breath and 4 steps throughout your out-breath, or two steps, then three steps. If that is comfy for you, please get pleasure from training this fashion. It’s also possible to attempt making the in-breath and the out-breath the identical size, so that you simply take three steps together with your in-breath and three together with your out-breath. Preserve strolling and you will discover the pure connection between your breath and your steps.

Don’t overlook to follow smiling. Your half-smile will carry calm and delight to your steps and your breath, and assist maintain your consideration. After training for half an hour or an hour, you will discover that your breath, your steps, your counting, and your half-smile all mix collectively in a wonderful stability of mindfulness. Every step grounds us within the solidity of the earth. With every step we totally arrive within the current second.

Strolling Meditation Poem

I take refuge in Mom Earth.
Each breath, each step
manifests our love.
Each breath brings happiness.
Each step brings happiness.
I see the entire cosmos within the earth.

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