Thich Nhat Hanh’s Walking Meditation

The late Thich Nhat Hanh emphasised the apply of aware strolling as a profound option to deepen our reference to our physique and the earth. Learn on and learn to breathe, take a aware step, and are available again to your true house.

Thich Nhat Hanh walking with a crowd

Strolling meditation with Thich Nhat Hanh throughout a Day of Mindfulness at Deer Park Monastery. Photograph by Don Farber.

Many people stroll for the only objective of getting from one place to a different. Now suppose we’re strolling to a sacred place. We’d stroll quietly and take every mild step with reverence. I suggest that we stroll this manner each time we stroll on the earth. The earth is sacred and we contact her with every step. We must be very respectful, as a result of we’re strolling on our mom. If we stroll like that, then each step might be grounding, each step might be nourishing.

We will practice ourselves to stroll with reverence. Wherever we stroll, whether or not it’s the railway station or the grocery store, we’re strolling on the earth and so we’re in a holy sanctuary. If we keep in mind to stroll like that, we may be nourished and discover solidity with every step.

To stroll on this manner, now we have to note every step. Every step made in mindfulness can carry us again to the right here and the now. Go slowly. Mindfulness lights our manner. We don’t rush. With every breath we could take only one step. We could have run all our life, however now we don’t should run anymore. That is the time to cease working. To be grounded within the earth is to really feel its solidity with every step and know that we’re proper the place we’re imagined to be.

Every aware breath, every aware step, reminds us that we’re alive on this lovely planet. We don’t want the rest. It’s fantastic sufficient simply to be alive, to breathe in, and to make one step. We’ve arrived at the place actual life is offered—the current second. If we breathe and stroll on this manner, we grow to be as stable as a mountain.

There are these of us who’ve a snug home, however we don’t really feel that we’re at house. We don’t need for something, and but we don’t really feel at house. All of us are in search of our stable floor, our true house. The earth is our true house and it’s at all times there, beneath us and round us. Breathe, take a aware step, and arrive. We’re already at house.

Uniting Physique and Thoughts

We will’t be grounded in our physique if our thoughts is some other place. We every have a physique that has been given us by the earth. This physique is a marvel. In our day by day lives, we could spend many hours forgetting the physique. We get misplaced in our pc or in our worries, concern, or busyness. Strolling meditation makes us entire once more. Solely after we are related with our physique are we actually alive. Therapeutic just isn’t potential with out that connection. So stroll and breathe in such a manner that you would be able to join along with your physique deeply.

Strolling meditation unites our physique and our thoughts. We mix our respiration with our steps. Once we breathe in, we could take two or three steps. Once we breathe out, we could take three, 4, or 5 steps. We listen to what’s comfy for our physique.

Our respiration has the perform of serving to our physique and thoughts to relax. As we stroll, we are able to say, Inhaling, I calm my physique. Respiration out, I carry peace into my physique. Calming the breath calms the physique and reduces any ache and stress.

Strolling meditation is before everything a apply to carry physique and thoughts collectively peacefully.

Once we stroll like this, with our breath, we carry our physique and our thoughts again collectively. Our physique and our thoughts are two points of the identical actuality. If we take away our thoughts from our physique, our physique is lifeless. If we take our physique out of our thoughts, our thoughts is lifeless. Don’t assume that one may be if the opposite just isn’t.

Strolling meditation is before everything a apply to carry physique and thoughts collectively peacefully. It doesn’t matter what we do, the place to begin is to relax, as a result of when our thoughts and our physique have calmed down, we see extra clearly. Once we see our anger or disappointment clearly, it dissipates. We start to really feel extra compassion for ourselves and others. We will solely really feel this when physique and thoughts are united.

Strolling meditation shouldn’t be work. It is rather nice, particularly within the early morning when the air remains to be very contemporary. Once we stroll mindfully, we see the wonder and the marvel of the earth round us, and we get up. We see that we live a really fantastic second. If our thoughts is caught and preoccupied with our worries and struggling, we miss this stuff. We will worth every step we take, and every step brings us happiness. Once we look once more on the earth and the sky, we see that the earth is a superb actuality.

We Are Not Separate From the Earth

We expect that the earth is the earth and we’re one thing exterior of the earth. However actually we’re within the earth. Think about that the earth is the tree and we’re a leaf. The earth just isn’t the setting, one thing exterior of us that we have to take care of. The earth is us. Simply as your dad and mom, ancestors, and academics are inside you, the earth is in you. Taking good care of the earth, we care for ourselves.

Once we see that the earth isn’t just the setting, that the earth is in us, at that second you may have actual communion with the earth. But when we see the earth as solely the setting, with ourselves within the heart, then we solely need to do one thing for the earth to ensure that us to outlive. However that isn’t sufficient. That could be a dualistic manner of seeing.

We’ve to apply taking a look at our planet not simply as matter, however as a residing and sentient being. The universe, the solar, and the celebs have contributed many components to the earth, and after we look into the earth we see that it’s a really lovely flower containing the presence of the entire universe. Once we look into our personal bodily formation, we’re fabricated from the identical components because the planet. It has made us. The earth and the universe are within us.

Once we take aware steps on the earth, our physique and thoughts unite, and we unite with the earth. The earth gave beginning to us and the earth will obtain us once more. Nothing is misplaced. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. We don’t want to attend till after our physique has disintegrated to return to Mom Earth. We’re going again to Mom Earth at each second. At any time when we breathe, every time we step, we’re returning to the earth. Even after we scratch ourselves, pores and skin cells will fall and return to the earth.

Inhaling, I do know Mom Earth is in me. Respiration out, I do know Mom Earth is in me.

Earth consists of the life sphere and the ambiance. So that you don’t have to attend till you die to return to Mom Earth, since you are already in Mom Earth. We’ve to return to take refuge in our lovely planet. I do know that earth is my house. I don’t must die with a view to return to Mom Earth. I’m in Mom Earth proper now, and Mom Earth is in me.

You might like to do this train when you stroll: Inhaling, I do know Mom Earth is in me. Respiration out, I do know Mom Earth is in me.

Paul Tillich, the German theologian, stated, “God just isn’t an individual however not lower than an individual.” That is true of the earth as nicely. It’s greater than an individual. It has given beginning to tens of millions of species, together with human beings. Many historic cultures believed there was a deity that inhabited the solar, and so they worshiped the solar. However once I do strolling meditation and touching the earth, I wouldn’t have that form of dualistic view. I’m not worshiping the earth as a separate deity exterior of myself.

I consider the earth as a bodhisattva, an awesome and compassionate being. A bodhisattva is a being who has awakening, understanding, and love. Any residing being who has awakening, peace, understanding, and love may be referred to as a bodhisattva, however a bodhisattva doesn’t should be a human being. Once we look right into a tree, we see the tree is contemporary, it nourishes life, and it gives shade and sweetness. It’s a spot of refuge for thus many birds and different creatures. A bodhisattva just isn’t one thing that’s up within the clouds distant from us. Bodhisattvas are throughout us. A youngster who has love, who has freshness, who has understanding, who gives us a variety of happiness, is a bodhisattva. The pine standing within the backyard offers us pleasure, gives us oxygen, and makes life extra lovely.

Once we say that earth is a ravishing bodhisattva, this isn’t our creativeness. It’s a incontrovertible fact that the earth is giving life and she or he may be very lovely. The bodhisattva just isn’t a separate spirit inhabiting the earth; we must always transcend that concept. There aren’t two separate issues—the earth, which is a fabric factor, and the spirit of the earth, a nonmaterial factor that inhabits the earth.

Our planet earth is itself a real, nice bodhisattva. It embodies so many nice virtues. The earth is stable—it may carry so many issues. It’s affected person—it takes its time transferring glaciers and carving rocks. The earth doesn’t discriminate. We will throw aromatic flowers on the earth, or we are able to throw urine and excrement on the earth, and the earth purifies it. The earth has an awesome capability to endure, and it gives a lot to nourish us—water, shelter, meals, and air to breathe.

Once we acknowledge the virtues, the expertise, the great thing about the earth bodhisattva, love is born. You like the earth and the earth loves you. You’ll do something for the well-being of the earth. And the earth will do something in your well-being. That’s the pure end result of the actual loving relationship. The earth isn’t just your setting, to be taken care of or worshiped; you might be one another. Each aware step can manifest that love.

With every step the earth heals us, and with every step we heal the earth.

A part of love is accountability. In Buddhism, we communicate of meditation as an act of awakening. To awaken is to be awake to one thing. We must be awake to the truth that the earth is at risk and residing species on earth are additionally at risk. Once we stroll mindfully, every step reminds us of our accountability. We’ve to guard the earth with the identical dedication now we have to guard our household and ourselves. The earth can nourish and heal us however it suffers as nicely. With every step the earth heals us, and with every step we heal the earth.

Once we stroll mindfully on the face of the earth, we’re grounded in her generosity and we can not assist however be grateful. The entire earth’s qualities of endurance, stability, creativity, love, and nondiscrimination can be found to us after we stroll reverently, conscious of our connection.

Let the Buddha Stroll

I’ve a scholar named Sister Tri Hai who spent a very long time in jail. She was a peace activist I knew since she was in center college. She got here to the USA to review English literature earlier than going again to Vietnam and turning into a nun. When she was out within the streets advocating for peaceable change, she was arrested and put in jail.

Throughout the day, the jail guards didn’t like her to sit down in meditation. Once they see somebody sitting in a jail cell solidly and stably, it feels a bit threatening. So she waited till the lights had gone out, and she or he would sit like an individual who has freedom. In outer look she was caught within the jail. However inside she was utterly free. While you sit like that, the partitions aren’t there. You’re in contact with the entire universe. You will have extra freedom than folks exterior who’re imprisoning themselves of their agitation.

Sister Tri Hai additionally practiced strolling meditation in her jail cell. It was very small—after seven steps she needed to flip round and are available again. Sitting and strolling mindfully gave her area inside. She taught different prisoners in her cell how you can sit and how you can breathe so they’d endure much less. They had been in a chilly cell, however by means of their strolling meditation, they had been grounded within the stable fantastic thing about the earth.

These of us who can stroll on the earth, who can stroll in freedom, ought to do it. If we rush from one place to a different, with out training strolling meditation, it’s such a waste. What’s strolling for? Strolling is for nothing. It’s only for strolling. That’s our final goal—strolling within the spring breeze. We’ve to stroll in order that now we have happiness, in order that we is usually a free particular person. We’ve to let go of all the pieces, and never search or lengthy or seek for something. There’s sufficient for us to be joyful.

All of the Buddhist tales inform us that the Buddha had a variety of happiness when he sat, when he walked, when he ate. We’ve some expertise of this. We all know there are moments after we’re strolling or sitting that we’re so joyful. We additionally know that there are occasions, due to sickness or bodily incapacity or as a result of our thoughts is caught elsewhere, after we can not stroll freely just like the Buddha. There are these of us who wouldn’t have the usage of our legs. There are these of us who’re in jail, like Sister Tri Hai, and solely have a couple of ft of area. However we are able to all invite the Buddha to stroll for us. When now we have problem, we are able to go away that problem behind and let the Buddha stroll for us. Shortly the solidity of the earth might help us return to ourselves.

If we sit mindfully, if we stroll mindfully and reverently on the earth, we’ll generate the energies of mindfulness, of peace, and of compassion in each physique and thoughts.

We’re fabricated from physique and thoughts. Our physique can radiate the power of peace and compassion. Our thoughts additionally has power. The power of the thoughts may be highly effective. If the power of the thoughts is crammed with concern and anger, it may be very damaging. But when we sit mindfully, if we stroll mindfully and reverently on the earth, we’ll generate the energies of mindfulness, of peace, and of compassion in each physique and thoughts. This sort of power can heal and remodel.

In the event you stroll reverently on the earth with two different folks, soaking within the earth’s solidity, you’ll all three radiate and profit from the power of peace and compassion. If 300 folks sit or stroll like this, every one generates the power of mindfulness, peace, and compassion, and everybody within the group receives that therapeutic power. The power of peace and mindfulness doesn’t come from elsewhere. It comes from us. It comes from our capability to breathe, to stroll, to sit down mindfully and acknowledge the wonders of life.

While you stroll reverently and solidly on this earth and I do the identical, we ship out waves of compassion and peace. It’s this compassion that may heal ourselves, one another, and this lovely inexperienced earth.

Meditation: Strolling on the Earth

Stroll slowly, in a relaxed manner. While you apply this manner, your steps are these of essentially the most safe particular person on earth. Really feel the gravity that makes each step connect to the earth. With every step, you might be grounded on the earth.

One option to apply strolling meditation is to breathe in and take one step, and focus all of your consideration on the only of your foot. In case you have not arrived totally, 100% within the right here and the now, don’t take the following step. I’m positive you may take a step like that as a result of there’s buddhanature in you. Buddhanature is the capability of being conscious of what’s going on. It’s what lets you acknowledge what you might be doing within the present second and to say to your self, I’m alive, I’m taking a step. Anybody can do that. There’s a buddha in each one in every of us, and we must always permit the buddha to stroll.

Whereas strolling, apply acutely aware respiration by counting steps. Discover every breath and the variety of steps you’re taking as you breathe in and as you breathe out. Don’t attempt to management your respiration. Enable your lungs as a lot time and air as they want, and easily discover what number of steps you’re taking as your lungs refill and what number of you’re taking as they empty, aware of each your breath and your steps. The hyperlink is the counting.

While you stroll uphill or downhill, the variety of steps per breath will change. All the time observe the wants of your lungs. You might discover that your exhalation is longer than your inhalation. You would possibly discover that you simply take three steps throughout your in-breath and 4 steps throughout your out-breath, or two steps, then three steps. If that is comfy for you, please take pleasure in training this manner. You can too attempt making the in-breath and the out-breath the identical size, so that you simply take three steps along with your in-breath and three along with your out-breath. Maintain strolling and you will discover the pure connection between your breath and your steps.

Don’t overlook to apply smiling. Your half-smile will carry calm and delight to your steps and your breath, and assist maintain your consideration. After training for half an hour or an hour, you will discover that your breath, your steps, your counting, and your half-smile all mix collectively in a wonderful steadiness of mindfulness. Every step grounds us within the solidity of the earth. With every step we totally arrive within the current second.

Strolling Meditation Poem

I take refuge in Mom Earth.
Each breath, each step
manifests our love.
Each breath brings happiness.
Each step brings happiness.
I see the entire cosmos within the earth.

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