Walking the mind
Post by Chintana Ahlund
No dog is too much for me to handle. ~ Cesar Milan
Down a side street where live oaks lean over a cul de sac, I stop and take three deep breaths. Monkey grass and purple striped crocuses flower over the curb. On the wing tips of a lone crane is the glow of an oncoming sunset. The hum drum traffic circling Lake Lily Park helps to slow the busy mind.
“Art under the Stars” reads a sign at the park entrance. I take my time strolling by white tents exhibiting local pottery, paintings, jewlery and plants. One tent has slender sculptures made of painted metal. I admire a tall samurai with blue robes and a sheathed sword. The neighboring tent has model sail boats spanning four feet wide.
I perform a mental check: smooth sailing. I don’t think about picking up laundry detergent at Publix or what to make for dinner. I don’t worry about emailing back editors and calling long lost friends.
Right now, I’m walking the mind and remembering that I have everything I need to be happy.
For hours today, my thoughts hounded me. Like restless dogs with thumping tails, slobbering mouths and heavy pants, they nudged me with big wet noses.
Get up. Get up. Get up.
Fed up with the internal frenzy, I finally got up. I gave up writing, preparing dinner, watching TV and worrying about endless items on my to-do list. I grabbed mental leashes, lassoed my thoughts and went for a walk.
The mind, much like a golden retriever, loves a good walk. When walking attentively and slowly, it eagerly scans your surroundings and gives up its whimpering and barking. The mind becomes a happy in-the-moment pup.
Cesar Millan, canine coach and TV star from The Dog Whisperer, advises that dogs need: exercise, discipline and affection – in that order. I think the same applies to the mind. We have to first train the mind, commit to the discipline of meditation and be kind to ourselves as we practice. Sometimes, when the mind grows vicious, barks loudly or growls, it needs to be walked. “Stay calm and assertive,” says Cesar.
When I get home, I place on my window sill mementos from my walk: an acorn and Bald Cypress cone. A sweet woody scent sticks to my palms. I smile, grateful for the many little things I spotted from my walk.
Walking. It’s a simple practice that many great minds have considered sacred: famous writers, monks, philosophers, poets and presidents.
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” ~ Thich Naht Hahn
“I am a slow walker, but I never walk backwards.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
“The sum of the whole is this: walk and be happy; walk and be healthy. The best way to lengthen out our days is to walk steadily and with a purpose.” ~ Charles Dickens
“All truly great thoughts are conceived by walking.” ~ Friedrich Nietzsche
“An early morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” ~ Henry David Thoreau
“Take a two-mile walk every morning before breakfast.” ~ Harry Truman
“Walking is man’s best medicine.” ~ Hippocrates
“He knew a path that wanted walking; He knew a spring that wanted drinking; A thought that wanted further thinking.” ~ Robert Frost
Try walking meditation & bring back a memento
- Slowly walk with one foot in front of another.
- Keep your gaze straight ahead.
- Concentrate on evenly shifting your weight as you walk; don’t wobble.
- Stop periodically and take three deep breaths before you resume walking.
- Perform an internal check: have your thoughts slowed?
- Also take note of your external surroundings: are the grackles chirping? Have the clouds thinned?
- Pick up a small item (a flower, pebble, pine cone, etc.) and mindfully hold it in your hands while walking.
- Repeat this thought: I have everything I need to be happy right now.
- When you get home, place the memento from your walk on a window sill, book shelf or desk. It will remind you of the peace you felt from your walk.