This week’s Mindfulness Challenge is called ‘Walking in Love’.
Mindful Walking in nature is a wonderful mindfulness practice that gives us the opportunity to really see and feel the interconnection of life all around us. As we walk, and place each foot with intent, touching in with the bare sensation of foot on ground, interconnecting muscles working intuitively to keep balance, we might notice the grass that is growing underfoot with the help of the sun and the rain and the nutrients in the soil. Or perhaps we might notice a bird collecting tuffs of that very grass to line its nest, or hear the sound of a honey bee collecting nectar from the current bushes beside us and connect in with the tea that was sweetened at breakfast by local honey. In this world, there are countless strands of interconnection between all creatures and beings occurring simultaneously.
However, this knowledge can become lost as we go about our day, distracted by all of the events that can cause feelings of disunity. For instance, we may have been stung by a bee as a child and consequently there might be a fear present, or perhaps our house has become a refuge to swallows and there is an unsightly mess of swallow waste on the ground surrounding our home, provoking irritation or disgust. All of a sudden this interconnection becomes a separation between ‘us’ and ‘them’, forgetting that we all depend on the same things: the rain, the sun and being nurtured or nourished.
This can happen with the people in our communities and our personal lives, as well. Perhaps we feel challenged by differing viewpoints or lifestyle in those we know. Or maybe we work with someone whose personality conflicts with our own. Even though we all interconnected and we all rely on the same things: food, shelter and feelings of well-being, we may start focusing on the differences between us. This can cause a feeling of isolation and loneliness.
Sharon Salzberg addresses this ‘move away from’ or feelings of disconnection when she says “Love and concern for all are not things some of us are born with and others are not. Rather, they are results of what we do with our minds: We can choose to transform our minds so that they embody love, or we can allow them to develop false habits and false concepts of separation”.
So as a practice to help our minds embody feelings of concern and compassion for ourselves and others, rather than separation, or to really get a sense of the interconnection that exists and unifies all beings and creatures, this week’s challenge is to bring a bit of Loving Kindness to our Mindful Walking meditation.
As a means of starting where we are, we can send Loving Kindness phrases to ourselves and all in nature that we come across on our Mindful Walk. We can start by walking at a gentle pace, touching in with body sensations and sending ourselves phrases such as ‘May I be well, May I be happy, May I be safe’ and alternating sending these phrases to ourselves with to sending them to the life that we see all around us. We may extend phrases to the birds and the bees: ‘May you be free from danger’, or to the grass: ‘May you be nourished and healthy’.
In this way, we can begin transforming our minds and the habitual tendencies of our minds to embody love and connection, rather than division. And as we practice this ‘Walking in Love’ meditation more frequently, we might find that these feelings and wishes for well-being begin to arise more naturally for those all around us, including those who we find difficult.
Let us know how you get on!