Every Wednesday, rain or shine, a friend and I head into a forest to explore.
Fortunately, in B.C., we don’t have to travel far to find a new trail each week. And I’ll admit even if we visit the same trail, it feels new each time because it is a new experience (and, well, because I often lose my sense of direction and can never really be sure of what trail we are on.)
Typically I’m not even there to explore nature, at least not the nature around me. Though I do notice the rivers, the trees, their intricate root systems, the various layers of rocks and soil (and we do stop to chat with them from time to time), I’m usually focused on my step, the next step, then the step after that as each step is happening. Sometimes my head is down, and I get lost in the forest. Sometimes I am all in my head, and I get lost in conversation or thought.
And then I arrive. Suddenly, I don’t feel lost at all. I feel like I have reached somewhere new and yet familiar. I feel at home. I feel present.
And then I realize it is my own nature that I am there to explore… which is really no different than the nature “around” me. I feel one with all that is.
By the time we make our way out of the forest, I feel renewed. I feel alive. I feel the forest alive in me. I try to take this feeling home, this feeling of being at home, with me back to the city. And every time I feel lost, I return to the forest, literally or metaphorically, by focusing on my feet and taking one step at a time.
People often picture meditation as someone sitting still, with a straight spine, eyes closed, legs crossed, hands on lap, and fingers in a mudra, like a yogi. This is not always desirable or possible — or even necessary.
Walking meditations can be just as effective in transporting you from the past and future into the here and now, from the head into the whole body.
Take off your shoes and feel your bare feet touch the floor, or better yet the earth. Walk in super slow motion, feeling each movement of your feet, ankles, knees and legs. Stay focused on the soles of your feet. Breathe naturally. Practice walking meditation for five to ten minutes, by yourself or with others.