Instead of focussing our attention on what we are doing, we tend to get lost in thoughts about things that are not happening in the present moment. We can’t seem to help dwelling on the past or worrying about the future; we’re constantly forgetting to focus on making the best of the present moment. This lack of present awareness does emotional harm.
Being mindful can create balance and bring peace to the mind. There are many ways we can practice mindfulness while going about our daily routines. Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh introduces a series of “Mindfulness Essentials” on “How to Walk”, “How to Eat”, “How to Love”, “How to Sit”, and “How to Relax”. It may seem absurd having to learn how to do things we’ve known how to do by heart from a very young age, but the thing is, we may not know how to do them while bringing peace to our mind and body.
“How to Walk” teaches us how to arrive at every step with peace. To enjoy walking meditation is to be aware of the fact that we are walking. Be grateful for the fact that we can walk. Think of the people who cannot, and walk for them. Consider what we step on as Mother Earth, then smile and imagine our feet kissing Mother Earth.
When you walk, do not forget the fundamental aspect of mindfulness: breathing. It is admittedly challenging to keep our full attention on our breathing, but I am confident we can achieve it with commitment and practice. Author Thich Nhat Hanh recommends that we breathe in a constant way so our mindfulness won’t disappear.
Sometimes life is just too hard. We are constantly tempted to run away from one thing or one place, to escape. Running away only causes destruction. We need to calm ourselves, be aware of how we feel, breathe in and out, and walk mindfully.
As with walking, we can mindfully climb stairs. Nhat Hanh recommends an interesting approach of “signing an agreement” with our stairs and climb them mindfully.
Oftentimes, I notice that my mind has wandered while I’m walking around, and then I arrive at a place. Obviously I know that I got there through walking, but the truth is I was not even aware I was walking. Imagine being able to walk for the first time — would I take my ability to walk for granted? No. I’ve been trying to be a mindful walker; I hope you have too.