Meditative walking is an up and coming practice in our western society. Read on to learn how this practice can help us learn to publicly live out our inner peace.
I am fortunate to live next to a small labyrinth. This meditative labyrinth is on the property of a neighborhood church. When I walk in the morning, I often include this labyrinth on my morning route.
I walk fairly early in the morning, so there are not very many people out and about, but I can still feel that familiar twinge of awkwardness when I approach the labyrinth....will someone turn a corner and see me, should I pause in the middle today in stillness, or just turn around and walk back out? How fast should I walk...just fast enough not to look awkward, but slow enough to feel contemplative.
Even though I've been walking the labyrinth for a few years, I still struggle with this outward expression of stillness that, to some, may look and feel foreign.
It's a good struggle for me.
I can feel my mind wanting to go into self protective positions, begging me not to embarrass myself, or worse, to just turn a blind eye to everyone. What I really want to be able to do is to hold myself with congruity. To live what I profess to believe, namely, that intentional stillness really can be cultivated in my busy life, and that it makes a difference.
And so I walk the labyrinth and I practice.
Even though I trust the process, there are still moments where I have to calm my anxiety down. There are times I am anxious what people will think of me if they see me standing solid like a mountain in the center. When I enter and exit the labyrinth, I stand still and take 3 deep breaths and formally bow myself into and out of the practice, again, my brain gets busy telling me this is "weird" and that guy over there walking his dog thinks I'm weird.
Living with this kind of intentionality is a practice, not just the physicality of what we are doing, but becoming aware of where our mind goes during the activity.
How do we live our peace in more visible and vulnerable ways- whether that's walking the labyrinth or meditating on a park bench, or doing gentle yoga during our lunch break, or simply meeting someone's eye gaze and really being present with them? These are all vulnerable yet powerful ways to express our humanity.
It's a practice. This is more than just putting our hands in a position, or repeating a mantra, or politely greeting someone. This is a practice of connecting to our soul and then living that peace with quiet confidence and gratitude.
If you are interested in living your peace with more ease, here are a few suggestions:
Cultivate humility. Often in an effort to avoid the exposure of vulnerability we become somewhat obtuse. We use the energy of defensiveness to protect ourselves. It might sound like: "Well, I don't really care what they think..." When we cultivate humility and we expose who we are, it might sound more like: "Well, this is a bit awkward, but I have such a feeling of peace when I do this..."
Reflect to connect. Connect the peaceful feelings you have with the activity you are pursuing. It becomes easier to live our peace if we are not looking for the validation of others, but rather are learning to discern for ourselves what diminishes and enhances our peace and clarity.
Practice with a purpose. When we bring some intentionality to our practice we give our mind something to anchor into. This aids our concentration, helps us stay self referencing, and leads to more insight. Read the blog: "Walking the Labyrinth, part 2" for some ideas on ways to practice with purpose when you walk the labyrinth.
I look forward to the day when I see someone else walking the labyrinth, but until that day, I will keep practicing becoming still, both on the inside and the outside as I journey to the center.
Many blessings and kindness to you, dear friends.
Juli Larsen, CMI
Certified Meditation Instructor