Oakville Zen Meditation

#274 WALKING: a detoxing step against burnout Sun. June 9th 19

                       Walking:  a detoxing step against burnout

“Have a walk” is a good advice to someone who needs to cool down somewhat.

Burnout has become the # 1buzzword over the last 10 years. Modern life doesn’t seem to be relaxing us or even care. Media are increasingly talking about anxiety, anger, fatigue, depression, etc. Self-help books, relaxation apps and wellness gurus are widely available to many and yet emotions such as anxiety, anger, burnout,depression, nostalgia are the #1 causes of medical consultation in our Western civilization.

Some of our daily struggles include Internet overload, feeling of loneliness despite social media, competitive working world, lack of time and multi tasking and so on.

In our frantic pace and time contraction we are unable to keep our focus more than few min. on one single target. The reason? Our mind is in constant boiling state.

Ask yourself this bizarre question: “ How often do I think that I am walking?”  Of course Never.

Walking is a basic reflex starting between 9 and 12 months old.

Subconsciously we average 7,000 steps/day.

That is around 180,000 Km during a 80 years lifespan. This is lot of steps to think about. And yet, when we put one foot in front of the other our mind is running around non-stop but certainly not on paying attention on our subconscious automatic walking.

Walking is used to move our body from A to B. It is a basic mechanical activity during which our mind is not walking but running non-stop about this and that.

For must of us, we never use walking as a tool to quiet our mind.

Greek and Roman philosophers wrote about the benefits of walking. There is a Latin sentence saying

“It is solved by walking,” and, by “it” I mean almost anything.

 For zillions of years back, walking is one of the keys to health, well-being, and creativity. Not only its physical part is important even if the number of calories burned is minimal, but its mental and emotional impacts one are also critical.

 Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, “A turn or two I’ll walk, to still my beating mind”

How to walk in a mindful way?

Not easy but you don’t need to be a genius to walk in a mindful way if you are looking to achieve a quieter mind. In fact, the only tool we need is to pay attention to your our steps. Here are the recipes:

Slow down the pace, keep a straight back, breath normally and focus on each step one by one by feeling the ground. Looking few meters away but don’t be distracted by what you see.

Do this for few min during which your cell phone is off. (An impossibility for many already addicted to it)

Over time, we will be able to repeat this “moving mindfulness meditation” exercise every time we walk. 

Like its sitting meditation sister, walking meditation is also a practical act with spiritual ramifications. 

In Walking Meditation the great Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh explains that walking and paying attention to our steps are acts of enlightenment. He points out that by cultivating this habit of walking attentively, we can start to see the world around us more clearly.

In many retreat centres walking meditation is as important than the sitting one because more challenging.

Walking forces the mind to focus on each of our steps. Therefore, the mind has no options but to slowdown the flow of thoughts the same way that breathing does during sitting meditation.

Breathing and steps are powerful mind anchors. They are twins as far the effects.

We become more present to the moment and its surrounding reality.

In the long term it will ease anxiety, spark creativity, increase productivity, and detox us from digital overload (that is, if you don’t walk with your thumbs pressing frenetically the keyboard of your cell phone ).