We are of the earth, and belong to You
Every step that we take upon You
should be done in a sacred manner;
each step should be as a prayer.
Summer weather is on the way. A time when we shed our socks and wear more sandals, or even go barefoot when possible. I have many wonderful memories of running around barefoot as a kid. Nowadays, it's harder to get away with bare feet in public. Yet, I still love it.
Whether you can be barefoot or not, walking without having a destination can actually be a very grounding meditation. Paying attention to each footfall as it walks on the earth can help to quiet the mind. Feel the connection of the foot as it hits the earth and be completely present to the feel of the grass or sand with each step. In his book "Present Moment, Wonderful Moment," Thich Nhat Hahn says, "We walk all the time, but usually it is more like running. Our hurried steps print anxiety and sorrow on the Earth. If we can take one step in peace, we can take two, three, four, and then five steps for the peace and happiness of humankind."
Mindful walking will actually quiet the mind and slow down our breathing so that it is in harmony with our steps. Spending ten to thirty minutes walking mindfully can have the same effect as sitting for meditation. And, if you are lucky enough to get to be barefoot, the feel of grass or sand under your feet can even connect you to your inner child and that joy of summertimes past.
The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, a gentle wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
"We are of the Earth, and belong to You.
Every step that we take upon You
should be done in a sacred manner,
each step should be as a prayer."
Black Elk, Native American spiritual leader
A dear, thoughtful friend has gifted me yoga classes with one of our favorite teachers, Tias Little. Many of his classes begin by lying on the mat in Savasana, which for non-yogis means lying supine on the mat. Beginning this way resonates with me because, with everything that is swirling around us right now, it feels nice to be grounded and connected to the earth. When I give up fighting gravity and let go into earth’s pull, I feel a sense of comfort. The earth is always here underneath us, gently spinning on its axis, and yet we are rarely still enough to try to sense it. Being on the earth can be a healing salve.
How do you know if you need to take Savasana? Here are some symptoms that might be telling: feeling ungrounded; overstimulated by events around you; spacey; trouble making decisions; restless; trouble sleeping; anxious and stressed. Feeling just one of these symptoms qualifies you for a 10 to 20 minute time-out in Savasana. Rest on the earth and do nothing. When I had a yard, I loved lying on the grass and looking up at the sky. If it’s hard to lie down, take your shoes off and feel the earth under your feet. Give yourself rest in any comfortable position that works for you. Rest from the media, rest from technology, or just rest from those around you. Allow yourself to feel the nourishment of your bones sinking down into the earth.
In “Peace is Every Step,” a wonderful book by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hahn, he says to focus on mindful breathing. “While we practice conscious breathing, our thinking will slow down, and we can give ourselves a real rest. Most of the time, we think too much, and mindful breathing helps us to be calm, relaxed, and peaceful. It helps us stop thinking so much and stop being possessed by sorrows of the past and worries about the future. It enables us to be in touch with life, which is wonderful in the present moment.”
When I come out of Savasana, having rested on the earth, I often have a new perspective and attitude. Those few minutes I give to myself helps me face the rest of the day with a sense of ease and well-being.