There are many people who find it extremely difficult to sit in
silent meditation. For them, it may seem as if the "art of meditation"
is something that is lost to them. I felt this way for a long time,
because I am an impatient person by nature, and sitting in silent
meditation was not a thing I tolerated well. Then someone introduced me
to Walking Meditation, and everything changed for me around the idea of
"meditation." Suddenly, it was something I could do.

The first
thing that happened when I learned about Walking Meditation is that my
whole idea about what meditation IS completely vanished, to be replaced
by a much more clear and concise picture of what was going on. For me,
meditation always meant "clearing the mind of everything," leaving the
space for "the " to appear, so that I could move in
consciousness into "the nothingness that is The All…", or something
like that.

What I was supposed to be trying to do, I thought, was
"empty my mind." I was supposed to try to sit in one place, close my
eyes, and "think of nothing." This made me crazy, because my mind never
turns off! It is always thinking, thinking, thinking of something. So I
was never very good at sitting with my legs crossed, closing my eyes,
and concentrating on The Nothing. Frustrated, I hardly ever
meditated-and envied those who said they did (although I secretly
wondered whether they really did, or simply went through the motions,
doing no better than I was able to do).

Then a master in
my life told me that I had entirely the wrong idea of what meditation
was about. Meditation, she said, was not about emptiness, it was about
focus. Instead of trying to sit still and think about nothing, she
suggested that I do a "walking meditation," and move about, stopping to
focus on specific things that my eyes would light upon.

"Consider a
blade of grass," she would say. "Consider it. Look at it closely.
Regard it intently. Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like?
What are its specific characteristics? What does it feel like? What is
its fragrance? What is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely.
What does it tell you about Life?"

Then, she said, "Experience the
grass in its Completeness. Take off your shoes and socks and walk on
the grass in your bare feet. Think of nothing else but your feet. Focus
your attention on the bottom of your feet and consider immensely exactly
what you are feeling there. Tell your mind to feel nothing else, just
for that moment. Ignore all other incoming data except the data coming
from the bottom of your feet. Close your eyes, if this helps.

"Walk
slowly and deliberately, allowing each slow and gentle step to tell you
about the grass. Then open your eyes and look at all of the grass
around you. Ignore all other incoming data except the data about the
grass, coming from your eyes and feet.

"Now focus on your sense of
smell, and see if you can smell the grass. Ignore all other incoming
data except the data about the grass coming from your nose, your eyes,
and your feet. See if you can focus your attention in this way. If you
can, you will experience the grass as you may never have experienced it
before. You will know more about grass than you ever knew before, at a
deeper level. You will never experience it in the same way again. You
will realize that you have been ignoring the grass your whole life."

Then,
my master teacher said, do the same thing with a flower. "Consider it.
Look at it closely. Regard it intently. Consider every aspect of it.
What does it look like? What are its specific characteristics? What does
it feel like? What is its fragrance? What is its size, compared to you?
Look at it closely. What does it tell you about Life?"

Then, she
said, "Experience the flower in its Completeness. Bring it to your nose
and smell it once more. Think of nothing else but your nose. Focus your
attention on your nose and consider immensely exactly what you are
experiencing there. Tell your mind to experience nothing else, just for
that moment. Ignore all other incoming data except the data coming from
your nose. Close your eyes, if this helps.

"Now focus on your
sense of touch, and touch the flower carefully. Touch the flower at the
same time as you smell the flower. Ignore all other incoming data except
the data about the flower coming from your fingertips and your nose.
Now, open your eyes and look closely at the flower. See if you can still
smell the flower, now that it is far enough away for you to look at it
and touch it. See if you can focus your attention in this way. If you
can, you will experience the flower as you may never have experienced it
before. You will know more about the flower than you ever knew before,
at a deeper level. You will never experience it in the same way again.
You will realize that you have been ignoring the flowers your whole
life."

Then, she said, do the same thing with a tree. Walk over to
a tree and consider it. "Look at it closely. Regard it intently.
Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like? What are its
specific characteristics? What does it feel like? What is its fragrance?
What is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely. What does it
tell you about Life?"

And she said, "Experience the tree in its
Completeness. Place you hands upon it and feel it totally. Think of
nothing else but your hands. Focus your attention on your hands and
consider immensely exactly what you are experiencing there. Tell your
mind to experience nothing else, just for that moment. Ignore all other
incoming data except the data coming from your hands. Close your eyes,
if this helps.

"Now focus on your sense of smell, and smell the
tree. Continue touching the tree at the same time as you smell the tree.
Ignore all other incoming data except the data about the tree coming
from your fingertips and your nose. Now, open your eyes and look closely
at the tree. Look up at it, and see if you can climb in consciousness
to its top. See if you can still smell the tree, now that it is far
enough away for you to look at it. Keep touching it. See if you can
focus your attention in this way. If you can, you will experience the
tree as you may never have experienced it before. You will know more
about the tree than you ever knew before, at a deeper level. You will
never experience it in the same way again. You will realize that you
have been ignoring the treesyour whole life."

"Now, step away from
the tree and lose all physical contact with it. See if you can bring to
your mind the experience of the tree as you stand and look at it from
father away. Experience it completely. Do not be surprised if you can
smell the tree, even from a distance. Do not be surprised if you can, in
a sense, even `feel’ the tree from where you are. What has happened is
that you have opened yourself to the vibration of the tree. You are
`catching the vibe.’ See how far back you can step from the tree and
still retain `contact.’ When you lose touch with the experience of the
tree, move closer in, move back to it. See if this helps you regain
contact.

"This exercise will help you develop your ability to
focus your attention on whatever you want to experience at a heightened
level."

"Now, walk. Walk wherever you live. In the country, in the
city, it does not matter. Walk slowly, but deliberately. And look
around you. Let your eyes fall where they may. As your eyes find
something, focus the fullness of your attention upon it. It can be
anything. A garbage truck. A stop sign. A crack in the sidewalk, a
pebble by the road. Look at it closely, right from where you are. Regard
it intently. Consider every aspect of it. What does it look like? What
are its specific characteristics? What does it feel like, from where you
are? What is its fragrance? Can you sense that from where you are? What
is its size, compared to you? Look at it closely. What does it tell you
about Life?"

"Continue your walk. Pick out three things on your
walk to consider in this way. This walk should take you at least a half
hour. You cannot consider three things fully in less time, at first.
Later, you will be able to consider something fully in just a moment, in
a nonno-second. But now, you are just practicing.

"This is
Walking Meditation, and what you are doing is training your mind to stop
ignoring everything you are experiencing. You are training your mind to
focus on a particular aspect of your experience, so that you may
experience it completely."

Practice Walking Meditation in this way
for three weeks, my master teacher told me, and "you will never
experience life the same way again." Then, take the final step in
Walking Meditation. Walk outside-or inside, for that matter. You can
actually walk anywhere. From the bedroom to the kitchen will do. There
is plenty to see, plenty to touch, plenty to experience. You can spend
three hours with the carpet alone-and "this time do not pick out any
particular part of what you are seeing or encountering. Try to encounter
all of it. Seek to embrace all of it. Attempt to focus on all of it at
the same time.

"Take in the Big Picture. Close your eyes at first,
if this helps. Smell what you are smelling, hear what you are hearing,
feel whatever you are `feeling’ of the space around you. Then open your
eyes and add sight. See everything you are seeing, and nothing in
particular. See All Of It. Smell All Of It. Feel All Of It. If this
begins to overwhelm you, refocus on a Part Of It, so that you do not
lose your psychic balance.

"With enough practice, you will soon be
able to walk into any space or place and begin to experience All Of It
at some level. You have heightened your Awareness. You are raised your
consciousness. You have expanded your ability to be Present, fully, in
the Moment.

"Now, do this with your eyes closed and while you are
sitting down, and you have Silent Mediation. Boom. It is as simple as
that."

(Next week I will tell you about Stopping Meditation. Until then, Walk Well.)