Have you ever ‘really’ walked? Felt every step and sensation in the body, heard every surrounding sound and truly witnessed the astounding beauty of the buildings, birds and bushes. I don’t think I had ever ‘really’ walked until my 32nd year of life. When you are a child, one things is for you sure: you ‘really’ live. Every day is a miracle for you to enjoy but as you mature walking becomes a means to an end, to get you from A-B and more often than not we are rushing around with one foot in the future, one stuck worrying in the past (or perhaps even worse you never walk anywhere, you even drive your car to the local shop!) and we are sadly missing out on the beauty of life.
The beloved Vietnamese Zen Monk Thich Nhat Hanh who resides at Plum Village in France, a spiritual community where he teaches the art of living mindfully, encourages children to walk mindfully. With every inhale the children take a step forward and say ‘oui’ (yes) and with every exhale they take their second step and repeat ‘oui’. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches them to say yes to the world and appreciate its beauty. I literally can’t think of anything more lovely for a child to learn.
Unfortunately it’s not just children who need to be taught the art of living mindfully, more so than ever it is us; the parents, the adults, the ones who have been battling our way through life coping with family problems, exams, bills, break-ups, addictions, desires. But wherever you are, it only takes one moment, one thought, one breath to turn your life and attitude around.
On the retreats I run here in Spain, alongside a variety of fun and dynamic yoga classes that I know students love (as they can generally connect with movement a lot more than stillness in the beginning) I place a big importance on mindfulness. We learn and practice mindful breathing meditation, metta meditation and we also start every day with mindful walking. Pictured above you can see the beautiful route we take from the house towards the beach where we meet for morning meditation and yoga. We walk along the coast line, through the picturesque old port with its white washed walls and cobbled streets in perfect silence as the sun rises high into the sky and the birds sing their morning songs. It is heavenly.
Next time you walk to the shop, to the tube, to the school, to work - really, ‘really’ walk.