I’ve written about mindful walking previously both here and here. But I was reminded of it again just recently. I was to be guiding some mindful walking last week and didn’t want to do so using the same old words, so I reread a bit of Jon Kabat-Zinn “Full Catastrophe Living” to improve my phrasing of and thinking about the practice. This was an excellent resource and indeed I read parts of it instead of my own guidance….
We carry our mind when we walk, so we are usually absorbed in our own thoughts to one extent or another. We are hardly ever just walking, even when we are “just going for a walk”. Usually we walk for a reason…..
Walking meditation involves intentionally attending to the experience of walking itself. It involves focussing on the sensations in your feet or in your legs…. It is an internal sensation that is being cultivated, just the felt sensations associated with walking, nothing more…. We are simply inviting ourselves to experiment in being where we already are in this moment, with this step and not get out ahead of ourselves. The trick is to be completely where we are, step by step.
But then he also said
In MBSR we tend to walk extremely slowly, so that we can experience the various aspects of the gait cycle, which is, when all is said and done, a continually controlled falling forward and catching oneself.
And I realised where I had heard those last words before. Laurie Anderson had said something very similar. And I love it when connections in my life fall into place. Like walking in one part of a big city and suddenly coming upon another part of the city you had always assumed was separate. But now in fact you understand is right next door. Suddenly both parts of the internal mind map just like the city map, make so much more sense seen side by side and joined together.
And yes I realise that maybe Laurie Anderson wasn’t thinking of the MBSR mindful walking practice or Jon Kabat-Zinn at all when she wrote this in the 70’s – to me that doesn’t matter anyway.
Walking and Falling lyrics
“I wanted you,
and I was looking for you,
but I couldn’t find you.
I wanted you,
and I was looking for you all day,
but I couldn’t find you.
I couldn’t find you.
You’re walking and you don’t always realize it,
but you’re always falling.
With each step, you fall forward slightly,
and then catch yourself from falling.
Over and over, you’re falling and then catching yourself from falling.
And this is how you can be walking and falling at the same time.”