I've been waiting for an author to capture the experience of walking meditation. For years I have been baffled by those who say that walking is boring and that running is preferable. I have always found meditative walking to be joyful and now there is one who paints such a lovely picture of this mystical experience accessible for so many.
A soul-enriching work in every sense.
Or at least your little corner of it. Thich Nhat Hanh has made walking meditation accessible, and more importantly, enjoyable. This methhod is very different from the traditional model practiced between periods of sitting in a retreat. Thay takes us outside - preferably to a park or other beautiful setting - and encourages us to slow down, smile, and follow our breathing. He also shares many other keys(for lack of a better word), such as trying to visualize a lotus flower blooming under each step, and "gathas" or phrases to match to our breathing to help us arrive in the present moment, our true home.
While sitting has sometimes been challenging for me, walking meditation is sheer joy. This summer I've enjoyed nothing more than kicking off my shoes and walking barefoot around the backyard of our little farm. The wet grass, lilacs, and gentle breeze that I missed before are suddenly alive and real to me. Or perhaps the sight of a butterfly landing on the dung heap makes me stop and consider how I separate life into "beautiful" and "ugly". No matter what I encounter, I always return to the house relaxed and refreshed. What more could I want than the life that I have?
While on the surface this book seems to be written with childlike simplicity, I feel it is one of Thay's most mystical works. Ponder deeply his saying that if we practice wholeheartedly our friends and families will see fields of lotus flowers blossoming behind us wherever we go and you'll see what I mean. This book is so beautiful, so sublime, it really could change the world. If enough people were to pick it up, take it to heart and take to the streets - walking in mindfulness, enjoying their breath, printing love and compassion on the earth, I've no doubt, our future would blossom with each joyful step.