“When you practice walking meditation, you go for a stroll. You have no purpose or direction in space or time. The purpose of walking meditation is walking meditation itself. Going is important, not arriving. Walking meditation is not a means to an end; it is an end. Each step is life; each step is peace and joy. That is why we don’t have to hurry. That is why we slow down. We seem to move forward, but we don’t go anywhere; we are not drawn by a goal. Thus we smile while we are walking.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
I have to say it. Without even knowing it, over the past few weeks, I’d let myself run out of gas. Stress subtly accumulated and simmered inside. I really don’t like that feeling. I don’t carry it well. So exhausting.
Fortunately, a work road trip gave me some much-needed alone time in the car. Hours behind the wheel brought silence…deep breaths…and stillness. Big sighs. Somewhere in the middle of Illinois corn fields and interstates, my thoughts cleared, the momentum broke, and peace settled back into my body, heart, and spirit.
After a productive trip and lovely company, I stopped by Anderson Japanese Gardens on my way back home. This added probably three hours to the drive. But, oh, was it time well spent.
I took Thich Nhat Hanh’s walking meditation to heart and strolled without any real direction, enjoying the feel of my feet sinking into the chat along the paths and the breezes that cooled the sun on my skin.
Even when I had to join a work conference call during my visit, I felt at ease.
Click on the panos below for detail.
How cool are the shadows on these rocks?
I then settled back into my car and finished an unhurried drive home. Isn’t it odd that work travel — typically a stressful prospect — was what I needed to slow down and refill my spiritual tank? I’m also surprised by how easy it is to get bogged down by the day-to-day and lose sight of ourselves.
No matter how much progress we make, there’s still so much to learn and so many opportunities to improve. Thank God.