Walking slowly, tune in to how the body walks in a comfortable and calm way. Let your shoulders and arms be free and bring your whole body into a walk that’s a ‘going nowhere special’ stroll. Because a lot of our walking is hasty, with the upper body stiff and disconnected from the legs, you might need to give some attention to getting into flow. So, imagine you’re stepping over a row of sleeping kittens: the slight lifting of your leg that this requires will bring your hips and lower back into play and allow the legs to move more fluidly. As you come into flow, relax your shoulders and let them also turn a little with the walk. Keep your eyes open but with a ‘looking at the view’ soft gaze. Walking properly includes your whole body: it’s like swimming.
Be with each step at a time as it rises from your hips and finishes with a foot touching the ground. Don’t pause between steps; let them flow naturally. The flow is important because it will calm the thinking. Then be with the touch of the foot on the ground, one foot at a time and at the end of each step. Be just at that point, for just that moment. Then let it go as that foot lifts, return to flow and pick up the sense of the other foot as it touches the ground. You could add a word to that moment – think: ‘this’, or ‘now’, or ‘just this’. Walk into the present moment. When you’ve walked across the room, stop, stand for a few seconds, then turn around and take a step with ‘just this’ or ‘right now’ in mind.
You’re not encouraging thinking or trying to come up with ideas but instead applying a thoughtful attention to specific moments, then relaxing it. This flexing of attention breaks up preoccupations and prunes the tangle of thought in a non-conflicting way. It turns run-away thinking into attentive thoughtfulness.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, Clarity and Calm—for Busy People, pp. 22-25.