Keep walking, though there’s no place to get to.
Don’t try to see through the distances.
That’s not for human beings. Move within,
but don’t move the way fear makes you move.

Translated by Coleman Barks


The trail welcomed me forward.  Each gentle bend seemed like a beckoning hand to “come, be here, and follow me until the next bend . . . and the next, and the next…”   It seemed to offer the reassurance that bend by bend, it would reliably lead me along each stretch of what was tangible and visible.  All I needed to do was be present with my walking.  Each stretch was a complete journey in itself.  Even though invisible, the trail would still be there along the invisible stretches that were ahead.

It took me a few bends to settle into a rhythmic pace of one footprint at a time.  At the start of the path, my steps had been so hurried that they had stirred up dirt and caused birds to suddenly fly away from their perch in the bushes.  There wasn’t any particular reason for my hurriedness, other than my mind needing time to recognize that this was time for walking, just walking, and not musing or idea-making.

As my pace slowed, I sensed the earth was softly recording each of my steps.  I couldn’t see mine, but felt prompted to emulate those of the deer who had walked earlier along the path.  Each of their hoof-prints had an evenness to their depth and a purity to their edges.  Occasionally, there were imprints from other animals, such as rabbits and racoons, that were equally as beautiful as those of the deer.

Like the bends in the trail, their prints – whether paw or hoof – felt like a quiet reminder to lovingly care for the way I move about in the world.  It was humbling to feel wrapped in the grace of life that has existed far beyond my individual or ancestral humanness.  There, in the seeming wilderness were wordless expressions of timeless wisdom shared by the animals, and the seemingly inanimate earth:  There is nowhere else to be other than where I am, and to be walking with all that is and ever will be.

May this sweet awareness ripple into all of my ways of making imprints – not only the action of my steps, but those of my thoughts, gestures and words.  May my etchings, whether in my mind or the world, thus be seeds of gentleness that nourish the font of compassion and kindness for all.

This short practice invites awareness of the life beneath your feet.

Prepare – 

  • Please find a comfortable standing position, ideally barefoot.
  • Take a few moments to notice the connection between your feet and the surface beneath them.  Just notice and become aware of the sensations on the soles of your feet.
    • Invite your mind to pause so that you can truly feel the feedback through your feet without expectation, labeling, or other mental chatter.
  • Imagine the surface beneath you is welcoming your presence.
    • Even if you are not standing directly on soil or sand, invite your awareness of your standing on the Earth, which is a living organism and home to not only you but millions of different life forms.
  • Still standing in place, slowly bend one knee, then straightening that leg and bending the other knee.  As you do this, notice any changes in the sensations in the soles of your feet without naming or labeling the feeling – just notice.

Practice – 

  • Slowly begin walking around the area where you are.
    • Invite your awareness that you are walking on the Earth, a living organism.
      • Be aware of the quality and weight of your steps.
      • Pretend you want to leave as light a footprint as you can.
    • Notice the sensations in the soles of your feet.
  • Gradually lengthen the stride of your steps until you are taking giant steps.
    • Take three giant steps.
    • Again, try to leave as light a footprint as possible.
    • Notice the entire movement of stepping into the long stride and placing your foot down.  Notice the sensation in your foot as it connects to the surface beneath you.
  • Return to walking with your normal stride.
    • Imagine your feet are smiling.
    • Imagine the earth is smiling.
    • Notice the sensations in the soles of your feet.
    • Perhaps notice the quality of your mood without labeling or naming.  Just notice.
  • Slowly return to standing still.  Smile and thank your feet.  Thank the Earth.

Transition back into your day – 

  • Sit quietly for a few moments.
  • When you are ready, return to your day.



This poem appears in Mala of the Heart: 108 Sacred Poems, page 2, edited by Ravi Nathwani and Kate Vogt and published by New World Library.  The practice appeared in prior reflection in 2022 entitled “Walking.”   H E A R T H is posted each new and full moon on  KateVogt©2023.

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