Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Walking Meditation - March Meeting

Walking Meditation is a wonderful initiation for beginners into the art of Meditation. It is easy to practice, and enhances both physical, mental and spiritual well-being. It is especially effective for those who find it difficult to sit still for long periods of time. Some people enjoy practicing in a beautiful outdoor setting, like a park. Others prefer to practice indoors, due to poor weather, or desire for privacy.

Walking Meditation should generally be practiced for between 15 minutes to 1 hour. A 20 minute walking meditation can also be used as a break between two 20 minute sitting meditations, allowing 1 hour of meditation without placing undue demands on the practitioner.

You can practice indoors by walking around the perimeter of your largest room. If you practice outdoors choose a scenic and quiet setting. Walk without a destination. Wander aimlessly without arriving, being somewhere rather than going somewhere.

Start out walking a little faster than normal, and gradually slow down to a normal walking speed, and then continue to slow down until you start to feel artificial or off balance. Speed up just enough to feel comfortable, physically and psychologically. At first you may need to walk fairly fast to feel smooth in your gait, but with practice, as your balance improves, you should be able to walk more slowly.

Be mindful of your breathing, without trying to control it. Allow the breath to become diaphragmatic if possible, but always make sure your breathing feels natural, not artificial. Allow the breath to become circular, and fluid.

Walk with 'soft vision' allowing the eyes to relax and focus upon nothing, while aware of everything. Smile softly with your eyes (see Mirror Exercise in Vision Chapter for details). Gradually allow the smile to spread from your eyes to your face and throughout your body. This is called an "organic smile" or a "thalamus smile". Imagine every cell of your body smiling softly. Let all worry and sadness fall away from you as you walk.

Walk in silence, both internal and external. Be mindful of your walking, make each step a gesture, so that you move in a state of grace, and each footprint is an impression of the peace and love you feel for the universe. Walk with slow, small, deliberate, balanced, graceful foot steps.

Notice the beauty of your surroundings, both externally and internally. Smile with every cell in your body.

Wednesday, 4 March 2009

The Orange Effect

A friend of mine wrote to me about a writing exercise they did with oranges and this is how the humble fruit stimulated their imagination...

Cold from the open-air stall, the fruit was firm in the palm of my hand, the stalk sat between my fingers, thumb rested in the depression at the base. Ornamental leaves hang flaccid and waxy, a ball of waxy pumice asking to be bowled in swinging, graceful over-arm. A pinch of skin fountains fragrant, pithy spray.

The peel tears with a dull-dry crackle and luxurious scented oil glistens on my nail. A soft silkworm lining caresses and encourages the thumb to plough ever deeper around relenting flesh.

Powdery coolness rests on the tongue tastes bitter arsenic until a bite through jelly flesh floods the mouth with sweet, watery nectar.

The skin felt unsatisfyingly thin, the orange was small, wizened and in all honesty, suspect. Attempting to peel it with newly trimmed nails was as useful as using putty to break the surface. With nowhere to gain purchase the skin broke away in eventual scraps and patches of orange paper. This was taking too long, how can it be worth it? I tore out a geriatric segment in frustration, it separating with a rasping, paper tear.

He had bought the orange from the old Nepalese grocer, a guy in an old deer-hunter hat to shield against the cold, face weather in soft, translucent crevasses. Snow spiralled down from the mountain that loomed above the ramshackle, wooden hut town at it’s base. His daughter was sick in the hospital again so he had secretly, against a staunch secular belief, decided to take an offering to the prayer wheels in the monastery at the shoulder of the pass.

It was dusk now as he set out, boots sloshing in the gravely, chocolate malt mush, where pure snow was swallowed instantly by the dirt of the town. It was a relief to start the ascent and leave the human clamour behind. The orange was sticky in his hand, so he dug from his quilted overcoat an old plastic bag to put it in, holding it with his hand thrust in his pocket, the bag twisting in the wind against his leg.