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walking meditation

permanent vacation

by kye on May 18, 2010

I want to tell you about how I relax and also get things done.

Last week I found myself saying, ‘I wish I could get away for a couple of weeks!’ A couple of weeks off when I’m ready, might be ideal –but sometimes, for a million good reasons, now really isn’t the time. And yet, those million good reasons have started to feel heavy… life has become stressful… I really need the break.

Instinctively, I begin to reach for what it is I need. I sink into the feeling of the need to relax. I focus on the exact feeling of what it’s like to get away from it all: that tranquil, spacious, no-pressure, spontaneous, at-ease feeling.

And then, all of a sudden, I find myself remembering that I can have this right now! It happens as I say to myself’ yes, that’s what I need–but…’ and the next moment the ‘yes… but’ flips, and becomes ‘but… yes!': and I’m back on permanent vacation.

And there are just two things I need to do, to stay on vacation and also do my day:

First, I thin out what I put on my plan for the day–mostly just my appointments stay (and I’m always careful not to overbook those).
I’ll also keep one or two other things that have to do with something I care about. What I’m doing is making lots of room for responding spontaneously, in the moment.

Second, about the things that could turn into a ‘gotta’ on my list, I ask myself–‘what’s a relaxing way to handle this?’

Answering that question this morning, I found myself walking to the bank with my deposits.

On the way there I enjoyed the sunshine and fresh air after last night’s rain; as I made the deposit I chatted with the teller who also likes to walk in the morning; and on the way back, I sank deep into feeling my body in motion.

And right now, I’m feeling how much I like the people whose checks I deposited. There’s a glow around the whole experience–
instead of a job, it’s turned into a nourishing, relaxing, high point of the day.


restorative walking 101

by kye on October 25, 2009

This past week, I was dealing with a difficult, time-consuming situation.  By the time I could step back a little I was drained of energy.  My body was tense and tight.  I needed a restorative walk.

I just got back from that walk feeling balanced, relaxed, and at peace.  I’d like to share with you part of what I did that made it so effective.

First, I took my walk in the morning.

A tough week takes its toll on body rhythms.  Fortunately, these rhythms are easy to re-set if you know how.  Our bodies are programmed to respond to morning light to keep our rhythms in sync with the natural world.  This re-rhythming is augmented by the rhythmic movement of walking.

I began my walk this morning by paying attention to my breathing and posture.  For the first five or ten minutes I breathed in for four steps, then out for eight steps.  I loosened my shoulders, and let them circle back and drop into their natural, relaxed back-and-down position.

These breathing and posture changes ‘re-set’ my autonomic nervous system, helping the sympathetic system let down and supporting the calm quiet of the parasympathetic system.  I felt myself settling back into the feeling of being in ordinary time with a regular routine.

Next I began to rest in sensory experience.  I focused first on just that most basic of senses, the sense of touch.  I gave all my attention to the sensation of each foot connecting with the earth just-so.  Then I noticed other physical sensations of walking, like the feeling of my hips in motion.  I felt the breeze, and the temperature of the air.

Once I was grounded in my own movement, I added other senses. I started with smell, which is nearly as primal as touch.  This led naturally to the sense of sight, as the scent of late-season flowers invited me to find where they were blooming.

When I turned for home, I deepened my relaxation a little further.  I softened the muscles around my eyes, especially at my temples.  And I let my shoulders and arms go very loose and light, playing ‘empty coat sleeves’.  I let them swing freely, however they were moved by the movement of walking.

As I reached home, I noticed how easy it was to climb the stairs.  Time it took? —about 20 minutes.

My simple recipe, summarized:

  • walk in the morning light
  • use breathing and posture to ‘talk’ to the autonomic nervous system
  • move deep into sensory exploration
  • soften the eyes
  • empty the shoulders

If you try my recipe, don’t feel like you need to add all the ingredients at first.  Just pick two or three that sound especially good to start with.  Over time you can add the others.

It would be a pleasure to read about your experiences with this way of walking, if you’d like to share them below:


it’s not just the note, it’s the beat

September 21, 2009

On my walk just now, I was stopped in my tracks by a bush densely covered with creamy blossoms, barely tinted rosy-gold.  They were shaped something like trumpet flowers but more blunt.  The leaves were a very light sage green. I wondered, ‘is this a member of the sage family?’  I rubbed a leaf, smelled […]

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how to remove a stuck mantra

September 4, 2009

I am an adventurer when it comes to meditation.  It’s not that I’ll try anything and everything — but I do like to play. Walking meditation is the most basic kind for me.  When I need to come home again, walking meditation is how I get there. Often I’ll synchronize my breath and my steps.  […]

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