Sunday, November 02, 2008

Walking Meditation

One of the primary practices of Theravadin Buddhism is walking meditation.  It is a way of developing mindfulness in one of our most common daily activities, moving through the world.  In a presidential campaign every activity, even a simple one like walking, is filled with distractions -- what's the address, who will I be speaking to, is this person committed to Obama, leaning our way or another way, what campaign material should I leave -- so that most other sensations go unnoticed.  How does my foot feel against this exquisitely rickety porch stair? Is the wind blowing around my knees warm or cool?  What sensations are pleasant? Unpleasant? Neutral?

And what about the other impressions, of people's suffering?  And the judgments that arise in me -- about the way people live, the conditions of neighborhoods, houses, yards -- as I go about my job for this week, knocking on doors, handing out campaign material, hoping this is the most compassionate thing I can do right now.  

There is another practice, called Metta, which the Buddha taught his monks as a way of overcoming fear of all manner of creatures as they did sitting and walking meditation in a forest dominated by tree spirits.  So for all those I have met these last six days --  

May all beings be happy. May all beings be safe and protected from harm, may all being be healthy and strong, may all being live with ease of well-being.

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