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Mindful : August 2018
Henry David Thoreau— who famously “went to the woods” to find himself and to find company in nature—wrote a long essay called “Walking,” where he celebrated “sauntering” as a noble ar t. He was walking like “a meandering river,” not driven by purpose but rather by the sheer joy of letting mind mix with nature—away from the noise that society (and nowadays our devices) can impose on us. He wasn’t celebrating walking simply as a form of exercise, but as a way to raise your gaze above the constraints that daily life can put on you. While formal walking meditation practice emphasizes close attention to the movement of your body and your feet on the ground, this walking-in- the-wild practice asks you to join the vastness above and all around with the earth beneath your feet—allowing you to recall how refreshing it can be to rest your gaze on something farther away than a computer screen or the car in front of you in traffic. When you begin walking, take it very, very slowly, with your eyes closed and chin tucked down. Allow the sensations of your feet on the ground to guide you. A walking stick is a fine accom- paniment. You can do this on a path or in an open meadow. Just be careful to go slow enough not to stumble on something. Open your eyes and lift your head to a level gaze. Star t to take in the surround- ings—close to you, between ground level and eye level, and just ahead. Stride out confidently at a slightly accelerated pace. Stop if you need to appreciate something in detail. Raise your gaze above eye level and look out to the horizon. Notice how much bigger your peripheral vision has become now that you’re looking up and out. Walk at whatever pace—fast or slow or moderate—your heart desires. Find a spot with a clear view of the sky. Stop, lie down, and look at the sky. If it’s evening, revel in the gathering stars. Take in the vastness that you are par t of. When the awe becomes too much for you, come back to earth and resume your walk. One Step at a Time PRACTICE