What does it feel like to walk like a Buddha?

My last two posts have been about walking meditation:

Freshen Up Your Practice with Walking Meditation

Some More Helpful Tips on Walking Meditation

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

I thought it would be appropriate to end this particular series on walking mediation with the “Zen poetry,” so to speak, of my heart teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. There are so many dharma teachers I love and appreciate, in every single school of Buddhism, but I’ve never had any teacher speak to my heart the way Thây does.

Thây (his students’ affectionate name for him) is a wonderful poet, and his poetic way with words is always reflected in how he talks about and explains Buddhism. I think that’s why his books and teachings have proven so accessible to so many people, whether or not they are Buddhists. He speaks to all our hearts; he speaks to the very heart of humanity with total compassion and wisdom. And our heart’s naturally respond.

So, open your heart up to this brief teaching on walking meditation. It’s less about the detail, the skillful techniques of the previous posts, and more about the spirit we can bring to walking—and indeed all the activities of our lives.

I’ve seen Thây walk in person on retreat; he walks like one would imagine the Buddha would have walked—with complete mindfulness, presence, and compassion. And if you asked him to teach you, he’d take your hand, look at you with eyes of limitless compassion and say, “My dear friend. Come walk with me. Come walk like a Buddha. Peace is every step. ”

Walking Meditation

Thich Nhat Hanh from “Peace is Every Step

Walking meditation can be very enjoyable. We walk slowly, alone or with friends, if possible in some beautiful place. Walking meditation is really to enjoy the walking—walking not in order to arrive, but just to walk. The purpose is to be in the present moment and, aware of our breathing and our walking, to enjoy each step. Therefore we have to shake off all worries and anxieties, no thinking of the future, not thinking of the past, just enjoying the present moment. We can take the hand of a child as do it. We walk, we make steps as if we are the happiest person on Earth.

Although we walk all the time, our walking is usually more like running. When we walk like that, we print anxiety and sorrow on the Earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth. We can all do this, provided that we want it very much. Any child can do it. If we can take one step like this, we can take two, three, four, and five. When we are able to take one step peacefully and happily, we are working for the cause of peace and happiness for the whole of humankind. Walking meditation is a wonderful practice.

I HAVE ARRIVED - I AM HOME - MY DESTINATION LIES IN EACH STEP

When we do walking meditation outside, we walk a little slower than our normal pace, and we coordinate our breathing with our steps. For example, we may take three steps with each in-breath and three steps with each out-breath. So we can say, “In, in, in. Out, out, out.” “In” is to help us to identify the in-breath. Every time we call something by its name, we make it more real, like saying the name of a friend.

If your lungs want four steps instead of three, please given them four steps. If they only want two steps, given them two. The length of your in-breath and out-breath do not have to be the same. For example, you can take three steps with each inhalation and four with each exhalation. If you feel happy, peaceful, and joyful while you are walking, you are practicing correctly.

Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet. We have caused a lot of damage to the Earth. Now it is time to take good care of her. We bring our peace and calm to the surface of the Earth and share the lesson of love. We walk in that spirit.

From time to time, when we see something beautiful, we may want to stop and look at it—a tree, a flower, some children playing. As we look, we continue to follow our breathing, lest we lose the beautiful flower and get caught up in our thoughts. When we want to resume walking, we just start again. Each step we take will create a cool breeze, refreshing our body and mind. Every step makes a flower bloom under our feet. We can do it only if we do not think of the future and the past, if we know that life can only be found in the present moment.

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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

4 Responses to “What does it feel like to walk like a Buddha?”

  1. Although I walk fast for pleasure, occasionally breaking out in a light jog, I agree that walking is contemplative and feels good. I have always enjoyed walking for the way it stimulates the body, including the mind. I especially like what Thây says here: “Be aware of the contact between your feet and the Earth. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet..”

  2. Reblogged this on An Elegant Mystery and commented:
    Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet

  3. Makes me want to get out and walk some more. Bare-footed. On the Earth. Alone or with others going no where in particular and in no rush.

    michael j

    • Thanks. Me too! Kingdom of heaven on Earth, with each step of a foot! (And with friends such as you and others I’ve met since starting this blog, it would be even better.)

      With warm metta,
      Steve

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