Autumn has come to our little town by the Chesapeake Bay. The air is chill, the leaves are a symphony of colors, and the time has come for some serious walking meditation.
What’s walking meditation? It’s simply meditating while walking. It’s all about finding your stride and letting it take the place of your seated position during sitting meditation. Walking peacefully and in touch with the beauty of our surroundings, we fall into a rhythm, our feet making gentle contact with the earth. We become aware of everything: our breath, our heartbeat, the earth and sky. We take in the distinctive aromas of fall, the dappled sunlight, the bracing chill of the late October air.
The object is not to achieve anything; we simply want to be aware: aware of what is happening inside us and all around us. Some walking meditators count their breaths and cultivate an awareness of how those breaths grow deeper and longer throughout the walk. Others sync up their steps with their in- and out-breaths, silently repeating a mantra all the while. Others find that this distracts them too much from the beauty of their surroundings: they miss too much by over-concentrating. On the other hand, you don’t want “monkey mind” to set in, letting your thoughts fly to the future and the past. Whatever keeps you rooted to the present moment is recommended!
In this, my favorite season, it’s very important to me that I not miss any of the sights, sounds, and smells unique to this time of year. I’m reminded that the leaves of the trees are beautiful in death, and that death is not extinction. Rebirth will occur in the spring; like the leaves, I will eventually fall to earth, providing food for new life to grow. Seen in this way, a death can be as beautiful as a birth. All this I’ve intuited (and it’s become undeniably real to me) while doing walking meditation on autumn days near the Chesapeake. Autumn afternoons and evenings are like poignant poems; they are to be savored, and are made even sweeter by the knowledge that winter is close on their heels.
Image from eattheweeds.com