The Still Mind

Our world observed from stillness

Mindful Steps – The Art of Moving Stillness

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The walking of everyday life tends to be birthed of a certain purpose, and rarely is a purpose of walking for the sake of walking. Busy-ness serves as the bow that launches the arrow of intent of such walking. Hurried walking from one day with the intent of making it through to the next day as quickly as possible, leads to weeks, then months, then years, and left unabated, then a lifetime of hurried steps. Hurried steps are not limited to walking, for the movement from place to place is the offspring of the workings of the mind. Thus, hurried steps reflect a hurried mind, and a hurried mind becomes a hurried life (I’m sure we all are familiar with the adage “haste makes waste”).

Walking may seem like the most simplest of activities, and sure it may be, but when we walk, are we really aware of the act of walking, or is it more of a means to an end? Mindful walking, however, is something far more involved than one might realize, simply because the mind is coming along for the ride. When the mind is present (as it always is), no seemingly simple task such as paying attention to the steps one takes, is ever straight forward. The mind jumps around like a little monkey, from here to there, and back to here again, then over to a new place, then somewhere else still. To force this monkey behind the wheel to actually focus on one thing and one thing only, is a monumental request, and it is one that he will no doubt rebel against. We must give the little fellow a banana to bide his time, to leave us with focus to lock our awareness to. That banana is breathing and empty detachment from the thoughts that arise. Detachment simply means ‘not attaching to’ – letting thoughts come and go as they will.

Still Mind-ful Walking

To help keep the mind from having any additional distractions that can entice it to stray from the present action and moment, its best to perform walking meditation in a place where there are not a lot of people and happenings of modern life. It can be indoors, or outdoors, but again no place where potential distractions loom. You can walk around your dining room table, the living room, or outside in a secluded spot. While walking, gently keep your gaze directly in front of you, not looking around extraneously, and not looking at your feet. As with anything we do of this nature, force is never used to attempt to keep one’s attention on anything. When the thoughts wander off, bring your awareness to it, then return back to the task at hand, with no irritation or frustration.

Take your first step, feeling the ground on your foot as you set it down. Listen to the sound the reverberates to the ear drums. The next step, the same, and step after step, made to the beat of your breathing. One method that I like very much follows below:

Breathe in for four steps, each step counting as one beat. Exhale stepping as you did on the inhale, again with each step counting as one beat. Do this until you reach “ten”, then start over again from “one”. The pace of your walking should be relaxed, and slow and steady enough to enable your mind to experience each step wholly and equally. A good pace to keep is that of about one second per step. Initially, a second may not seem long enough to be mindful of one’s every step, but you would be surprised as to how slow it will be. When you slow down to one step per second, you will find that you are walking fairly slowly in comparison to what you are use to.

A good ten minutes of this is all that is needed, but it is fine to go longer if one wishes. This walking meditation can also be done at normal walking speed. Of course, when walking faster, it’s not going to be possible to bring the whole of your attention to each detail of your individual steps. Instead, simply be aware of each foot hitting the ground, and the sensation of the whole body moving as a unit. Even when walking at a normal pace, I still like to sync my walking with my breathing. I will do this while walking to the store, and/or returning from it, or just a casual stroll outdoors. My walks are always in a relatively peaceful place, with trees and green abound–especially conducive to stillness of mind.

I invite you to try some mindful walking, if you feel as though you would like to work some moving stillness into your day and your life.

^_^

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Author: Garrett S.

I am a writer, researcher, and 3D CG generalist, who developed a strong penchant for meditation and spiritual practices. I've incorporated that background into my current work manning the helm in directing my own personal animated projects, most notably of which is my "Mr. G" series, and "The Ville".

11 thoughts on “Mindful Steps – The Art of Moving Stillness

  1. Lovely, similar to what one of my yoga teacher’s calls our yoga practice, moving meditation.

  2. yes…I find my mind jumps around a great deal…when walking I try to concentrate on the walk and my surroundings…makes for a calmer, more peaceful walk…

  3. This is great – really good advice here.

  4. I used to find mindful walking very difficult to practice. Now I walk with a camera in my hand. This helps me to observe my surroundings carefully instead of getting lost in my own thoughts. It is not the same thing as you have described, but is still more helpful than letting my mind wander! P.S: This is a great blog.

    • That’s great! If that works for you, then there’s certainly nothing wrong with it. As long as your mind is focused on what is going on in the moment, then that is all that matters. There are a myriad of ways to be mindful and meditate, and you found one that works for you. And I can see how peering through the lens of a camera would help one to focus their mind, because the act of envisioning the things that you encounter as more than idle scenery, and actively using your mind to discern a photograph out of it, would be a very mindful activity. Zen photography! 🙂
      P.S. thank you for the compliment. I’m very glad that you like the blog that much. I like your blog too. Great pictures! I love still life and nature, and your vision seems to be something that resonates with me ^_^

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