For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Monday, 5 April 2010

A Mindful Walk (2)


I set off on my walk the next day with a heightened awareness of my five senses and of my mind interpreting and coordinating them. It's a revelation if you do this. It makes you realize that most of the time our minds, left to their own devices, are continually constructing and reconstructing unreal, conceptual worlds of prejudice and supposition, half-truth and fantasy, set in the past and the future - and we're lost to the intense richness of the immediate present.


I 'rotated' my senses one by one, bringing each in turn to the forefront of my awareness, finally trying to spotlight them all equally at the same time. Every time my thoughts meandered off on their usual, routine course of worry and anxiety, taking me away from the 'now', I reminded myself (from some place beyond the 'me' of my thoughts) of the whole chaotic mental process. I became super-conscious of these random, unbidden thoughts as they streamed past - watching them arise, stay a while, then disappear - with a certain detachment and wry amusement.


It suddenly dawned on me that, although my thoughts were part of me, I was not my thoughts. In fact the idea of 'I' or 'me' or 'self' became less central and important the more I immersed myself in pure sound and vision, touch and smell. If I had to put it into words, I'd say, perhaps, that I'd actually become the sightscape and the soundscape, the touchscape and the smellscape - even the tastescape, for smell and taste are very much bound together, and I could almost taste the air, the rain-soaked grass, the early spring freshness. My petty-minded, puffed-up ego seemed miles away, and for a few moments I rested in an ocean of undiluted being...


(All photos taken on my village walks.)

6 comments:

Alistair said...

I really do enjoy reading your blog. I've been inspired to read some superb books and poems along the way, so I thought I'd share this Ryokan one. Sums up mindfulness for me:

When all thoughts
Are exhausted
I slip into the woods
And gather
A pile of shepherd's purse.

Like the little stream
Making its way
Through the mossy crevices
I, too, quietly
Turn clear and transparent.

The Solitary Walker said...

Thanks, Alistair! That poem is so simple and so beautiful and, as you say, sums it all up more than any verbose explicatory books on Zen could ever do!

Tramp said...

SW
A lovely piece. I walk very similar routes near to where we live time after time but the experience is never the same.
An interesting idea to concentrate on one sense at a time then combine them. Thanks for the inspiration...Tramp

The Solitary Walker said...

Tramp, thanks for this. I got that idea of concentrating on the senses one by one, and then combining them, from the book I've just finished reading - 'Coming To Our Senses' by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

am said...

Your village is beautiful. A good place for a walk.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I like my walks to be mindful too Robert - walks for me are such therapy too.