February 09, 2012

Meditation Month: Day 9

There is only one way to walk in New York City: mindfully. Actually, let me back up. You don't have to walk mindfully in New York, but if you don't you're roadkill. (In fact, the main reason that you should walk mindfully is because so many people don't.) Most of the time you have to be prepared to move quickly, to avoid other walkers, taxis, bicyclists, or a crazy person. At other times you need to exercise patience—waiting for the next subway or slowly shuffling through a bottle neck situation at Grand Central during rush hour. Either way, if you find yourself walking in New York, Peter Doobinin had some good advice in today's Daily Dharma:

As you walk, cultivate a sense of ease. There’s no hurry to get anywhere, no destination to reach. You’re just walking. This is a good instruction: just walk. As you walk, as you let go of the desire to get somewhere, you begin to sense the joy in simply walking, in being in the present moment. You begin to comprehend the preciousness of each step. It’s an extraordinarily precious experience to walk on this earth.

That's from "Awakening, Step by Step." It might seem difficult / impossible to cultivate a sense of ease while walking in chaotic conditions, but it can be done. And the best way to do it is one step at a time.

Has anybody else been trying walking meditation during this Meditation Month challenge? In your experience, how does it compare with sitting meditation?

Throughout Meditation Month we'll be posting videos, audio interviews, articles, and tips from well-known Buddhist teachers. If you need more personal advice for your practice, "Meditation Doctor" and Zen teacher Brad Warner will be answering reader questions here all month.

Our meditation e-book, free to supporting and sustaining members, includes 25 articles on meditation that will help you develop and maintain your meditation practice. You can download the
Tricycle Teachings: Meditation e-book here. If you've been struggling with your meditation practice and you're worried about sitting the "right" way, listen to this week's Tricycle Talk with Jason Siff, the author of Unlearning Meditation: What to Do When the Instructions Get in the Way. 

For more on meditation and the body, check out Jill Satterfield's Tricycle Online Retreat "Meditation in Motion." 

Image: from the Flickr photostream of bondidwhat


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ewt7ewt7's picture

Day 13

After meditating this morning, being aware, as instructed, of bodily sensations, and wanting to return to bed, my husbander asked me in the kitchen if i were blissful. Giggling, i recalled my thoughts during meditation -- that i was going to return to bed, but he was already up!

i then picked a card from each of my three packs -- Zen, Tarot, Goddess: Love, the Devil, Eve with her serpent -- the Mother of All Life, including Adam.
Yesterday it was Tao, Death, and IX Chel (Mayan Moon Goddess).

Today, i feel different, reborn in awareness. Blissful!

Dominic Gomez's picture

Here in the Pacific Northwest, it's more a case of trying to make your way through an abundance of overly mindful people. Must be our proximity to mountains, forests and water.

Sam Mowe's picture

Where in the PNW are you? I'm a Portlander, myself. Sometimes I feel like a cowpoke in the Big Apple...

Dominic Gomez's picture

Seattle, Sam. Moved here from San Francisco in 2003. Grew up with a Left Coast POV.

astringfellow's picture

"As you walk, cultivate a sense of ease. There’s no hurry to get anywhere, no destination to reach. You’re just walking." Certain NY neighborhoods would preclude such a practice, of course.....

Sam Mowe's picture

True. But even if you are in a hurry, you can always cultivate a sense of ease!

astringfellow's picture

Ah, I apologize for not being clearer; I was referring to the inherent risk of being robbed.

ewt7ewt7's picture

Ah, being robbed. I lived in NYC for 14 years. It was where i first practiced aikido. I had heard that someone was robbed at knifepoint in the elevator of our building; it was then i remembered the "ballet of the martial arts" and got me to the dojo! Having first gone there to learn self defense, i soon tapped into the meditative spiritual quality of my experience.

Feeling there is not much ritual in our western society, I valued bowing to "O Sensei" (master teacher, founder of Aikido -- Morihei Ueshiba, a martial artist and samurai who changed the practice of war to the "way of the breath" or peace -- ai ki do.) And then we bow to our mat partners, honoring those who know more than we; and who will protect our wellbeing during practice.

After a while, when i left the dojo, i felt as if no one could harm me, no one would dare to approach me with evil intent. My energy protects me. intention is everything. i don't look like a victim when i walk mindfully in Manhattan and so i am not.

(p.s. i now live in Boston...)

astringfellow's picture

I agree, somewhat; I am also an Aikidoka. I started practicing many years ago, after having a read an excellent book by Robert Twigger called "Angry White Pajamas".
However, while I recognize the confidence one gains, and the energy and use of energy one learns, it would still be foolhardy to wander around certain streets in certain areas looking like a Monastic. It would be misinterpreted as a weakness by some of the more predatory types, (who vie for positions of strength in their gangs) whereas walking with purpose, vigor and confidence tends to be conducive to one's safety.
Further, to feel as "if no one could harm you," and no one would dare to approach you with "evil intent" is to misinterpret the wisdom within Aikido and Bushido. This was never the point of the teachings. To fail to underestimate a would-be opponent, and feel invulnerable to threats would be ill-advised, while avoiding potentially dangerous situations is key. Not standing out by blending in behaviorally is a good start.