Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings.
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.
Translated by Coleman Barks
The sky was a deep blue and the earth was covered with swaths of green. Among the low growing plants, soon to bloom into a rainbow of wildflowers, there was a narrow dirt trail. It was an offshoot of a larger trail, but it looked inviting in the way it meandered and flowed through the open mountain meadow.
Within just minutes of being on the trail, I felt the quiet community of boulders, rocks and vegetation. It seemed appropriate to pause and acknowledge their pristine presence. From the condition of the path and the lack of footprints in the patches of snow crossing over the path, it was clear that few humans had tread this way.
The pause allowed my ears to attune to the avian melodies but also to any possible reptilian or mammalian movements in the grasses. A subtle rumbling of the wind in the treetops prompted a mental scan of the contents of my backpack, ensuring there was extra layers of clothing and water and food for both my husband Jay and me. All was well. We could move onward.
Being in the wilderness is a more normal human experience than we think. The trail ahead is always unknown. Even with maps, preparedness and fine-tuned planning, the unexpected is the journey of all life. Yet, few humans choose to take the road less travelled – the one where we embrace each moment with a keen awareness of the vulnerability and simultaneously pure wondrousness of our embodiment.
There is sweet, but difficult, surrender in accepting that the only certain pattern is change. Wise poets such as Rumi remind us to keep walking, yet not to follow the more familiar pathway lined with fear. I would like to believe that instead, he and other sages are inviting us to courageously follow the road of love and its expressions in compassion, equity, and equanimity. And, in doing so, come together for the benefit of the well-being of all.
This practice supports awareness of walking
- Find a comfortable seated position.
- Invite an awareness of your surroundings – the space around and above you, and the earth beneath you. Feel free to look around or even touch your surroundings.
- Slowly shift your awareness to your skin – back, sides, front, top and bottom – and then the inner surface of your body. Notice any places where you might be holding unneeded tension and gently invite those areas to relax.
- Steadily and gradually shift your awareness to your breath in any way that is comfortable for you. Notice the quality of your breath today – smooth, ragged, deep, shallow – inviting acceptance of this awareness.
- When you are ready, come to standing.
- If comfortable, remove your shoes.
- Standing evenly on both feet, notice the soles of your feet and where they touch the surface beneath them. If you are on a floor, imagine you are standing on the earth.
- If you chose to leave your shoes on, imagine you can feel the surface of the earth through the soles of your shoes.
- Silently say to yourself, “The earth is a living organism. Even though I am standing on its skin, I am part of its life.”
- Repeat this three times.
- Pause and in a non-judgmental way, notice any emotional response you may have to considering the earth as a vital, living being.
- Silently greet the earth and say “thank you for allowing me to stand and walk on you.”
- Slowly begin to walk, taking each step with gratitude and appreciation of the gifts of the earth.
- Walk as long as you wish. Invite an awareness of your inner experience. Feel free to pause or move in any way that seems appropriate for you.
- In your own time, return to a seated position.
Transition Back into Your Day—
- Sit quietly.
- When you are ready, return to your day.
This poem is from Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 2, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library. HEARTH is posted each new and full moon. KateVogt©2021.