Friday, April 22, 2011
The River Path
Today I’m in the park by the river, juggling. I really shouldn’t walk, my feet are pretty tired from yesterday, and I need to go slow, let them heal. But I can’t resist, the day is just radiant, drenched in springtime.
Maybe just a couple miles on the flat path. I’ll go slow. As I start down the path, everything in the world is glittering. Bright yellow Dandelion blossoms hug the ground, sunlight bounces off whitecaps in the river, a cyclist whispers by wearing colorful tights and helmet.
As I walk, my attention is immersed in the colors and sounds. My mind settles in the present and the chatter slows down, then stops. I draw my attention to my breath, feel the rush of cool air in and out. Then I send it down to my feet. They hurt a little, but only a little. The sensation of each foot touching the ground, then lifting brings me to the present moment.
Stabilized, I send my attention back out to the colorful, singing world. Soon I am aware of my feet and the rhythm of walking only with a small part of my attention. Most of my attention is taking in the sensorial feast of a sunny spring day. The sights and sounds appear up ahead, come close, then recede behind me. Sounds are the last to drift away, and then there are new ones to replace them.
Now a sensation has taken hold in my physical self that is an old friend. It seems like I’m not really walking anymore. With most of my attention on other things, the steps are barely felt, and it seems more like I’m floating along, slowly, simply seeing each scene come and go, unattched. Much of the long winding trail traversing the high ridges has passed by me in this way. It is a comforting and expanding state of mind, and one of my first experiences with mindfulness.
When I as sixteen, hiking the high ridges alone for the first time, I didn’t know it was called anything. I only knew it felt good. And I discovered I kept on feeling good after I stopped. Today, it’s the same. When my walk is over, I can sense my Self changed by the experience. The best part is, it doesn’t have to be done anywhere special.
In this state of mind, everywhere is special.