The Buddhist peace worker, poet and monk Thich Nhat Hanh is known for his walkingmeditations. Most of the time we are not present to what we are doing. The mind is constantlythinking up thoughts of yesterday and tomorrow, often dwelling on the negative. As John Lennonwrote, "Life is what’s happening when we're making other plans." Mindfulness means to bepresent to what is, rather than losing ourselves in thoughts of what is no longer or what has notyet come. Mindfulness is an awakening to life, a nonjudgmental awareness of the wonder of thepresent moment. As you prepare to walk slowly and mindfully, regulating the cadence of yoursteps to diaphragmatic breathing, you might enjoy repeating one of Thich Nhat Hanh's meditativepoems:Breathing in I calm body and mind (inbreath)Breathing out I smile (long outbreath)Dwelling in the present moment (inbreath)I know this is the only moment ( long outbreath).Become aware of the rhythm of your body and breathing. How many steps to your inbreath? Howmany steps to your outbreath? How does it feel to move forward, shift your weight, move yourfeet? Keeping breath and body awareness, begin to notice the world around you. See the trees, thegrasses, the flowers in season, the sky. Smell the smells. Hear the sounds. Try to be aware without judgment or reflection. No good or bad sounds. Just sounds. Nonjudgmental awareness opens theeye of the heart. When you catch yourself thinking about something- and therefore becomingmindless- gently and kindly refocus your attention on breath and body. Recite the poem again andonce more become mindful of the world around you.
Sitting Mindfulness Meditation
Sit in your seat with great dignity, back straight and eyes closed. Become aware of yourbreathing- how breath comes in and fills your belly and how breath moves out into space. Keepabout 25% of your attention on breathing and the other 75% on the feeling of spaciousmindfulness. You may become aware of sounds, sensations, thoughts. Just let them all come andgo, passing across the spacious sky of your mind like clouds. Sogyal Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhistlama, compares the thoughts that arise in meditation to waves that rise from the ocean. It is theocean's nature to rise. We cannot stop it, but as Rinpoche says, we can "leave the risings in therisings."
We can extend the practice of mindful awareness and spaciousness beyond the period of sittingmeditation into the rest of life. Thich Nhat Hanh has written a beautiful book called the
Miracle of Mindfulness
. With true simplicity and beauty he reminds us that we can wake up in the ordinaryactivities of life by bringing our full attention to eating, washing the dishes, smelling the roses,walking, making love. Choose a piece of fruit and eat it mindfully. Be aware of its look, smell andfeel. Notice the way that your mouth fills with saliva in anticipation of its flavor. Be aware of eachbite moving down your throat into your stomach. Enjoyment and gratitude are natural outcomes of mindfulness. Choose any activity like washing the dishes or taking a shower and commit to doingit as mindfully as possible. For some people taking a shower mindfully, aware of their breathingand all the pleasant sensations, is an excellent morning meditation.
Holy Moment Meditation
Healing and holy have a common root in the old Anglo-Saxon word
, to make whole.