In its outward manifestation, meditation appears to involve either stopping, by parking the body in a stillness that suspends activity, or giving oneself over to flowing movement. In either case, it is an embodiment of wise attention, an inward gesture undertaken for the most part in silence, a shift from doing to simply being. It is an act that may at first seem artificial but that we soon discover, if we keep at it, is ultimately one of pure love for the life unfolding within us and around us. From Coming To Our Senses by JON KABAT-ZINN
Of course you can meditate anywhere, but I've always thought long walks and pilgrimages provide a wonderful opportunity for mindfulness and meditation (Pilgrimpace, in much the same way, relates walking to prayer). Away from the demands of job and family, email and cell phone, the ever-accelerating rat race, there's time and space to explore your own mind and face up to who you really are. It's less easy to be distracted from appreciating, fully and with an open heart, the beauty and significance of the present moment. For the present moment - here, here, now here - is all we ever have. But far too often we don't recognize it or inhabit it at all, preoccupied as we are with regrets about the past and anxieties about the future.
Mindfulness is the act of becoming aware of awareness itself, standing back and watching our teeming thoughts (which seem to have a mind of their own) come and go, realizing we are more than our thoughts and ideas, our fears and hopes, our instincts and emotions. By observing and understanding these processes we can free ourselves from their tyranny over us, and be delivered back to our true selves.
First days of spring
the sky is bright blue, the sun huge and warm.
Everything is turning green.
I carry my monk’s bowl and walk to the village
to beg for my daily meal.
The children spot me at the temple gate
and happily crowd around,
dragging at my arms till I stop.
I put my bowl on a white rock,
hang my bag on a branch.
First we braid grasses and play tug-of-war,
then we take turns singing and keeping a kick-ball in the air:
I kick the ball and they sing, they kick and I sing.
Time is forgotten, the hours fly.
People passing by point at me and laugh:
“Why are you acting like such a fool?”
I nod my head and don’t answer.
I could say something, but why?
Do you want to know what’s in my heart?
From the beginning of time: just this! just this! RYOKAN