A Meditation on Walking

Nearly a dozen people gathered yesterday at J and N’s rice-field hideaway for meditation and pot-luck. By consensus, we agreed to two sitting meditations (I had enough pillows and cushions to lie down comfortably in a corner of the small room!) – with a walking meditation thrown in for good measure.

The gong signaled the transition.  We rose silently and stepped out to the adjoining living room to walk – the rain preventing us from doing so outdoors. I walked slowly and deliberately, lifting and planting down each of my feet on the hard stone floor with great care and intention.

I’m normally averse to walking in my bare feet on hard surfaces, but this experience allowed me to move slowly and feel deeply through the full range of sensations that still afflict my left foot: Ah here is that particularly raw and bony spot, there a nerve ending still tingles.

How to explain the shifts that my body still does unthinkingly every time I take a step? Imagine walking down a long road such that your right foot has to constantly step up onto a sidewalk half-an-inch higher than the road. (Takes a toll on other parts of the body, especially the hips.)

Every so often I stop, mid-movement, plant my feet and lean from left to right and back again. Swaying meditation. It is striking, as I slowly move from side to side, to notice the yawning difference between my right foot and its near-twin; the right foot feels solid, strong and sturdy, while the left feels smaller, shier, tentative.

Swaying still, I seek out my center of gravity. Memories of ballet class come flooding back; recalling how I would feel so strong and centered, pulling myself up by the spine. Planted. Grounded.

But now, shifting left and right, searching for a clue, a subtle sign, I have to admit that my center of gravity is as elusive as ever.

I walk again. Treading lightly. Heel to toe.

Why do I walk so much? Because, despite gnawing pain still, despite those nerve endings that yearn for cover, because because because because… I CAN.



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