Let me begin by stating that I walk quickly. I always walk quickly. Usually when I walk, it is with purpose and my only focus while I walk is getting to where I need to go so I can do what needs to be done next. In fact, when my oldest was little, I sometimes forgot that their little legs are so little that they take like four steps to our one. You would see me rushing along and dragging a little one behind me. Once I remembered, I would always slow down, but it always made me feel unproductive at a slower pace.
Since that time, I have learned about walking meditation by reading Thich Nhat Hahn’s works. This weekend, my mother came into town. She normally is a fast, no-nonsense walker like myself. She recently had foot surgery and she has to move slower than usual. We did some shopping while she was here and I would find myself rushing along and she would have to remind me that I needed to wait up.
Shopping with my mother over the weekend, forced me to think about my habit of always rushing around. I miss the journey in my constant drive to get there. When I noticed that I got ahead of my mother, I had to force myself to slow down. I focused on the feeling of my feet hitting the ground, the feeling of my muscles contracting and relaxing, my breath going in and out (realizing that it was very shallow), the scenery around me, and the sound of our conversation and the conversations of the people around me. I was truly there with my mother and two daughters. Looking back now at the memory of that time over the weekend, the memory seems clearer than I am used to. Usually when I look back a couple of days, I see just certain images and the rest is a blur. I suspect that comes from me rushing around everywhere. When you slow down you can take in more around you.
I am not perfect, and I caught my mother having to remind me more times than not to slow down. But the whole experience got me to thinking about all the times, I relentlessly made those little feet scurry to keep up with me when my oldest was younger. I intend to try to do better, by mindfully walking from place to place instead of hurrying everywhere. Lets see how much of our lives we can actually be present for by paying attention to where we are in the moment.
Will you practice mindful walking with me? It doesn’t take much. Just notice the sensation of your breath as you walk. Notice the sensations in your body. Notice the people around you. Be present and in the here and now. Let go of the thoughts about the past and future.
We can be more present for our families!