The magical experience of walking

Who would have thought walking can be magical? I know, walking hardly sounds magical. In fact, with the new quarantine lifestyle, even walking seems like a chore. I am here to convince you that walking can be the most joyful experience you will have today. Have you ever closely looked at your legs? Stop everything you are doing, go to your closet and look at your legs in the mirror. Appreciate them for what they are. Think about how strong those leg muscles are and how wonderfully they carry you from one place to another with grace. Your legs dance with you, sprint with you, support all of your organs and your entire weight. Your legs tell you when you feel chilly and need a pair of warm socks, they help you find balance when you trip on the road and even train with you at the gym every single day. When you walk, your legs coordinate with each other, the nervous system and the external stimuli so perfectly that you hardly have to pay attention in order to walk properly. Over the years, you have gained experience walking on hilly, rocky, smooth, slippery and puddly surfaces. You now know exactly how to walk on those surfaces, how much pressure to apply on your feet, how long a stride to take and how to avoid obstacles. We hardly give ourselves credit for our amazing capability to walk and excel at it. If we get a stroke, we might possibly forget how to walk and have to learn it all over again. Fascinating, isn’t it?

You can walk while you talk, walk while you eat, walk while you read, walk while you think and the best of all, walk while you overthink things in your head. Have you ever thought of, you know, just walking? I remember the time when I first discovered that walking is simply amazing! I was in the second year of College and I was very much into mindfulness at the time. It was a sunny afternoon on a weekend and the corridors of my dingy Indian dorm were poorly lit. There were not many people in the corridor at the time and the foyer led to an open space that connected my dorm to a long walkway. I decided to take a nice long walk from my corridor through the well-lit foyer towards the long walkway that opened up to a huge outdoor seating area. I was preoccupied by school stuff and my head was about to blast open. So, I said to myself that I can’t allow any more stimuli into my headspace and I started walking like I have nowhere to be. The moment I decided to let go of the inner arguments and “just” walk, I noticed something remarkable. I started to consume the experience of walking with all of my senses and awareness.

With every step I took, I started to feel my own body weight a bit more than I usually do, as if I am literally dragging this 130 pounds of flesh standing up against the gravity. I started to feel with my feet the rough topography. I was involuntarily trying to sense the temperature of the floor. I suddenly became so aware of the empty space around me. If I stopped walking, the space remained the same and if I resumed my walk, I was moving through that space. I looked at the ceiling with a child-like curiosity. I felt time slow down ever so slightly for me to feel relaxed and didn’t need any alcohol or drugs to feel that way. I simply started to witness the various background noises of people talking originating from a distance. Somewhere within me, a seed of joy was growing. I felt this insane rush of happiness, just by enjoying my newly expanded range of awareness. It was purely delightful. I couldn’t explain why such a simple act of “just” walking made me realize the beauty of everything about that moment. A wave of gratitude hit me. I reached the outdoor area, I looked at the beautiful patterns of the pebbles on the ground. I sat down at the corridor near the mud and could clearly see the grains of sand. Wow, what a texture! I took a palmful of sand and felt it, as if I am a 5-year old at the beach looking at sand for the first time. I looked around, some people were in a group laughing loudly while others occupied the corners with their laptops and study material. I looked around, I looked at all of it as if I don’t belong to this scene in the movie. A deep sense of peace and contentment rested inside of me. The only way I would describe that moment was magical. From that point in time, I feel in love with the habit of being fully present when I take a walk in the park, especially on days when I really crave for some magic!

Walking can be a great form of meditation, In fact, Buddhist monks practice walking meditation, which is basically “just walking” but with a bit more grace, love and total awareness. Any activity can be turned into meditation if you use the entire range of your awareness. It is that simple! Next time, when you find yourself walking, spare a few minutes of multitasking and try “just” walking. I wish and hope your experience turns out just as magical as mine, leaving you with a heart full of peace and a face decorated with a big smile.

Picture: Royalty-free, sourced from http://www.unsplash.com.

Simple tips for beginners to slip into the silence

It is the year 2020 or might I say, the year of “feeling things” instead of “doing things” and I am intrigued by the fact that the topic of meditation is still a bit “woo-woo” for many out there. Some people recognize its importance due to the various scientifically-proven health benefits of meditation and mindfulness while others practice it to temporarily escape the chaotic events of their life. As someone who is training to become a meditation teacher, I was thinking about the reasons why is it so hard for some people to meditate and the common assumptions which some people might have about the practice of meditation. In its essence, meditation is an effortless process and is supposed to be very natural and easy. It is our birthright and to meditate is to get in touch with the silence within ourselves in order to, sort of recharge our “batteries” and to enrich our daily life experiences. Today, I would like to share some simple ways for a beginner to prepare before you can transition into a state of meditation that I have learnt during my 12-year long friendship with this wonderful practice.

  1. Household chores

This is the easiest way to get into a state of meditation and I have personally suggested this to many of my friends/acquaintance who had trouble cultivating the practice of meditation. You may not realize it at first but when you are by yourself doing the dishes, folding your clothes or cleaning the furniture, the chances of slipping into the “now” moment is higher than if you were accompanied by music or other people at home. This is probably one of the reasons why some of us feel satisfied after we clean something. Without paying much attention to it, the chaos within settles down while our “batteries” are charged and at the end of it, most of us feel much calmer. For beginners who feel a lot of inner resistance to sit and meditate, performing these simple tasks can prepare you for a successful meditation session.

  1. Mindful walks

Everyone who knows me in person can agree that I am a huge fan of connecting with nature. In spirituality, we consider the environment we live in as a part of our physical body. Our environment is just as alive as we are and they highly influence us. It is not news to say that nature is bountiful and that we ARE nature. When we have trouble connecting to the field of silence and pure awareness through meditation, we can get help from nature. Taking a walk in the park with total focus on every sensory stimulus and every vibrant scenery instantly connects us to the state we would be in during meditation. Although this state of meditation, just like the one while performing household tasks, is accompanied by some background mental activity, taking quiet walks is a very good way to start meditating as a beginner.

  1. Weaken those inner arguments

We all have been there. We play out scenarios in our head and even if our lives are more or less stress-free, our mind never shuts up. Our mind loves the drama and that’s not at all surprising! If you truly want to cultivate the habit of meditating, you have to clap your hands and bow to the director so he would end the rehearsal that he keeps orchestrating inside your head. I am not saying, you have to control your mind. Let me tell you, it is going to be IMPOSSIBLE to meditate when your intention is to CONTROL your mind and your thoughts. So, what do I mean by ending the rehearsal? Over the past few years, journalling has been of immense value to me to find out the root causes of the arguments that play in my mind from time to time. I would ask questions like- ” Why do I so badly want to defend myself to that person?”, “Why do I feel so strongly about this or that?” and “Do I have faith in myself to be prepared for such a disaster when the time comes? Why am I so anxious about this right now?”. When you truly heal or address your concerns, those mental rehearsals end and you can be more at peace, ready to step into silence.

  1. Listen to drumming music

When you listen to rhythmic music without words, your root chakra is healed and that makes you firmly anchored to your body. Why is this important? When you feel ungrounded or might I say, unsafe, threatened or in a state of constant self criticism, you are energetically depleted which makes it impossible for you to WANT to calm your mind. Rhythmic music can command your mind to focus on the music. Automatically, your feet starts tapping to the music and you start nodding your head, which can put you at ease. Bonus points if you wish to stand up and really feel the beats with your entire body with your eyes closed. Your life force energy gets activated and it charges your entire body, relaxing your muscles and makes you feel more fluid or in control of your body, which is a wonderful way to feel before you sit down to meditate. After some movement, moments of stillness of a meditation session doesn’t feel so restrictive to your body and to your mind.

Picture: Royalty-free, sourced from http://www.unsplash.com.