by Rev. Kusala
Walking meditation allows us to be with our sensations. If we
Investigate sensations, we find they can only happen right now.
When walking, we can be aware of the pressure on the bottom of our
feet. The sensation of pressure is happening right now and brings
our attention out of time (past and future) and into the present. At first, it
is hard to maintain this awareness of pressure on the feet? The mind wants to
think; it feeds on concepts. Sensations happen before thinking... So the
awareness of the sensation is blocked by our habitual thinking.
Early mediator's must have realized the mind needed something to
focus on in order to keep from distraction. They might have said,
"Minds will wander if we don't trick them in some way. Let's
try counting our footsteps as a way to keep our minds focused on
We walk slowly in a circle, and, each time we become aware of the
sensation of our foot touching the carpet, we are going to count,
up to ten and down to one, up to ten and down to one. If we lose
count, we go back to one.
This may sound easy, but it really isn't. Our mind isn't going to
be adding or subtracting or dividing. It isn't going to be doing
anything with the counting. If we are counting to nowhere and
walking to nowhere, our mind is going to get bored quickly. It
will wander off and think about all sorts of things. Each time it
does, we simply bring our mind back to the counting.
Within the first ten minutes or so, our minds may think about the
laundry that needs to be done. We might think, " If I were home
right now, I could be doing my laundry. That's far more important
than counting to ten." Or we might think, "I'm going to miss that
television program I've been wanting to see all week because I'm
walking around in a circle counting my footsteps." When these
thoughts arise, we bring our mind back to the object of
meditation with compassion and sensitivity.
The object of meditation is counting the sensation of our
footsteps. Every time we are successful in feeling the sensation
and giving it a number, we are in the present; not past, not future."
It may not sound like much, but it is.
Most people never walk in a circle and count to ten in their
entire lives (laughter). We want to use this walking meditation to feel
the moment, taste it; what's the flavor? We want to hear it; we want to
smell it; we want to see it. We want all the sense doors to be
active in the experience. It all starts with the counting of
footsteps. When we say, "One, two, three, etc." we are
really saying "Present moment one, present moment two,
present moment three." Quite remarkable.
As we continue developing our skills at meditation, we use
our new found awareness even more. We do zazen or sitting
meditation, and work with the sensation of breath, entering
and exiting our nose. Remember, any sensation we become aware
of in our bodies is happening right now. Because of sensation, we keep
going back to the moment. We seize it. We investigate it. How
does the moment feels at the tip of our nose? How it feels at the
bottom of our feet? How it feels when we sit for an hour? How
it feels when standing in line at the 7-Eleven store?
Sometimes the moment feels very big, gigantic, enormous. Oftentimes
it feels tiny. How does the moment feel in a movie? It feels
really small if it's a good movie. The sensation of watching a
a good movie doesn't last long enough for us; we want to extend it.
These moments have a specific flavor. We have an emotional
attachment that arises when the feeling is pleasant and an
emotional aversion when it's unpleasant. We have good moments, and
bad moments. We get a raise in pay; it's a good moment, and
lose our job; a bad moment.
How does it feel when the moment arises? Yes, it is possible to
feel the moment arise, attachment arise, anger arise, desire
arise. Whith this level of awareness, we can feel
in-between the moments, in the space before feeling, thought, and
sensation arises. The space between the thoughts gives us
the opportunity to have choiceless awareness.
That's the place, between the thoughts.
The first thing is to become aware of the thoughts.
See from where they're coming? See how they
exist, what feeds them? Watch them die and put them to
rest. After their death, we have the opportunity to simply be
aware. An awareness without the coloration of desire or aversion;
We slow down the process of thinking for a while, to watch.
We can't stop thinking just because we want to. But
there are tools, specific tools when used allow the mind
to relax and come to a place of balance.