Watch Your Step
Have you ever practiced walking meditation? The few times I have, I must admit, I just didn’t enjoy. So when my colleague Gina suggested walking meditation as an exercise to experience curiosity, a principal we were distinguishing for a learning curriculum in our Enough, Already! course, I begrudgingly agreed.
What does this have to do with curiosity exactly? I kept asking her, not being satisfied with her answers. Finally she said, “My meditation teacher always says, if you want to cultivate curiosity, practice walking meditation.”
In comes the resistance: Argh. For someone not interested in walking meditation, but very interested in cultivating curiosity, that’s just annoying. Fine, we can write this into the course, but it’s not for me.
Then the opportunity: Later in the day, during my strenuous exercise class as we were stepping high stairs for a really, really long time, I began to get curious how I might transform a straining sensation in my right quadratus (aka love handle). It’s not traditional walking meditation, I thought, but it’s a stepping movement. No one even has to know!
As I turned my attention to its “mindfulness setting,” it was rather magical what began to happen. In my focused awareness of my stepping – and noticing the differences right to left, where the movements were being sourced from – the tension in my right side lessened. A lot. Like 80%. Not only that, my breath got slower and deeper. My shoulders softened. I noticed even that the weights I had been gripping to my chest were now lightly held as if a bouquet of flowers near my belly. My center was in my center. I felt relaxed. And I was virtually pain free.
If this is what Gina’s teacher meant, I’m sold. I don’t know if anyone will find me slowly pacing my floor any time soon, but I really appreciated a mindfulness practice during a somewhat high intensity physical exercise regiment with lots of changes, noise and activity – rather like my life these days. As far from a dojo or meditation hall as it could be. But I am delighted to discover the power of walking meditation, inside of my own current rhythms and needs, and grateful for the conversations that got me here.