Traveler’s Guide into Walking Meditation in Nature

Let’s thinκ it for a moment. Modern people try to reproduce nature in every given opportunity. They even do that in their home or work. A flower pot, a few flowers in a vase, paintings that depict nature, are things that show an inner urge for a person to have elements reminding nature around him.

Something drives a person into that need to reproduce that concept around him, especially when he has no direct contact with nature. Most of the times people seek a small trip or excursion in nature or maybe a pick-nick. They want to walk in nature and remember how it was when they did such in their youth.

Man acts differently when in nature. Especially when he lives in it for a long time. Nature changes a person or better stated… nature reminds him what he must become again. Each one of us, when we are open to receive things, we can get lessons from life and understand life better wherever life resides.

There are 10 things I understood (that’s a heavy word, though) by walking in forests, next to rivers, through canyons and gorges or when cool or ugly things happened to me while doing such. The same things can happen of course far from rivers and forests and mountains and gorges.

These things (you are about to read) happen in our everyday life in the cities and they happen in a harder way, since nature and it’s beauty in our cities is usually largely contained. Let’s face it. A walk in the forest does not compare walking through a road full of garbage, even if the lessons you learn are different in each case…

By walking in nature you gradually can realize that forests, mountains and gorges contribute in the best way to self awareness. This is a special property of nature, since you are surrounded by things that are also alive, yet not negatively oriented (trees, water, etc).

To walk next or through water is -by itself- an active effort of inner purification. Next time you happen to be next to a river, just immerse yourself in the water (or just your feet) and think/visualize that you are baptized again. Visualize that whatever troubles you, is washed away. Believe that it is actually happening. This is amazingly effective, especially with running water, wherever this maybe…

So, all these are an opportunity to start observing things.

Here are 10 things that I observed through my quite frequent excursions in nature.

1. Obstacles

“Obstacles” will happen, either you want it or not. When you have a strong desire to become better in something, like for example become better in rock climbing, then the very exact thing you need will happen in order for you to achieve this ability. Most of times, things will happen in a different way than the one you may think it will be (so don’t think about it). As your ability is enhanced, then more “difficult” situations will occur for you to overcome them. Only this time the cumulative experience you sum up will help you to overcome them in an easier way. The exact same circumstances (exactly the same) will return if the lesson has not been learned. They will return again and again until either the mere memory of the experience and it’s solution arise or (even better) when you will act automatically to the proper solution due to the conscious understanding you have managed to acquire from that lesson.

2. Courage

When the virtue of courage needs to be developed as you engage in climbing, then there will be moments and circumstances where the only solution will be to make a leap of faith. When you take that, you will realize how easy it was to do that transition. This doesn’t mean that you will ignore danger but rather it means that you will perceive danger and the urge to provide a solution by risking a safe stand. Standing on a firm/solid place -especially in rock climbing- is never such, especially when you stuck for too long in the same place. When you remain in such a place/stand, you get more tired and the leap of faith becomes more difficult. Of course, when the place/stand is too comfortable you can stay there for long time but this means that you don’t move further… When this happens for too long then “something” will happen to “shake you”…

3.Concentration/Focus

Every time that you need to be concentrated, a rapid sequence of events (in seconds) will occur in order to place you in such a state. For example, a small tree branch may scratch you a bit (since you are not concentrated) and will stop you before you fall into the hole ahead and get seriously injured. The longer you can stay concentrated the better you will perceive the motive and patterns behind a thought that arises as well as of the evolving situation. In some “way”, life, smacks you when you need to straighten up and focus.

4. Where mind drifts

You can find – among other things – that what you experience and happens is what you really deeply desire, far from a simple thought. If your thoughts relate to the fear of getting injured, then you won’t enjoy the ride since you will see obstacles instead of moments of experience. Additionally the same deeper fear of getting injured will guide your steps and define your movement and thus you will simply… get injured. On the other hand, by perceiving that fear, you have the opportunity to understand the real status of the situation you are in and accept it as it is. At that point, enjoyment of even what seems like a tough thing can arise. For example to go through something that your physical status does not help to perform in an easy way.

5. Help

Due to some weird reason you always get some kind of help, unless you worry so much on if you get injured or die or get lost, where this perception is under complete mist. There is always a direction and a solution. Some times the solution is to stay still or thinking that you do such. The solution is revealed when the clouds of thought are lifted. The solution is, many times, the guidance from the mind. Some times you do the right thing without understanding how. Some other times your companion along the same path or in the team you participate will provide a solution or the thrust you need. Sometimes without them even knowing they do.

6. Everything are in a constant flow phase

There is nothing static in nature. Even the decomposing tree fallen down on the dirt is not dead but in a constant movement as it dissolves to its basic elements. The tree is transformed to something else, useful to its environment and this other thing continues to become also something else. You cannot stay static since there is not such a state in life. For example, let’s say you walk on a mountain and night falls. You wanted to come down before night. So, you made a wrong calculation. There your options are to either find your way during night time or find a place to accommodate yourself along with some food, until morning comes. It is always better at morning light. But if you stay still/static there, you will have a problem. However, do keep in mind that conscious stillness is an action. During a tough situation there is always a phase of darkness, but then morning always comes.

7. Experience

While the immediate perception of a current and future evolution of things is always useful, this doesn’t happen in such a plain way. Experience, knowledge of same situations, preparation and the right equipment and tools are those who help you move further. Without the experience of past different situations, it is not easy to be properly prepared to deal with an unpredictable situation.

When experience changes to actual knowledge, then situations change. Conscious understanding of an experience, produces courage.

8. Fear

Even if from all the things you read so far you can understand that fear is always present and emerges in any opportunity that is allowed to do so.Yet, it also remains a good reality check control point. Its immersion – even along a simple hike- can create instant triggers of questioning on what your present situation really is and thus to re-evaluate your present data. Even if these data are distorted as they instantly pass through the filters of fearful thoughts, their actual examination eventually produces the right data to act upon. Another way to send fear away is to consciously smile when such fearful thoughts emerge. This shows that you you have seen them as they come forth. In that way present is enjoyed better.

9. Love

When you realize how the different ecosystems are connected in a forest then you may start asking yourself if there is a same analogy/concept for people too. When you may realize that this concept has application on people, then you start seeing “mistakes”. These mistakes are intentionally placed in quotation marks since I do not think that they exist as such. At least along with the popular perception of what mistakes are. People create their own obstacles in their life and in the life of others. Simply put, people with a strong will for something and without considering the outcome of such will in the wider ecosystem of humanity, damage that ecosystem. However life itself is self regulated and balance is restored. It seems that it’s like a thing that is kept in balance due to a concept of opposite poles. When one of the poles gets overloaded then imbalance happens and circumstances change in order for balance to be restored.

Such usually happens through pain (even if pain is an outcome on how we perceive each situation). Same thing happens in nature. So, by observing all these through nature and how the system is restored (or rebooted), we may give birth to the desire to eliminate this imbalance and maybe a greater or better or deeper interest for the well being of others will be born.

So, by introducing the unified connected ecosystem factor in the equation, maybe the perception that we are all one thing is not far away.

10. Just keep looking and walking

So, what happens is that we can think lots of things regarding walking meditation. Yet the best seems to be to just walk and perceive what is happening around you. In that way, gradually, you become one with the environment and what is actually happening around you. You can enjoy colors, sounds, “things” expand and you fell that you are really alive. You can feel being whole and alive.

There you may experience thoughts like “Oh, how wonderfully alive I feel now! How well do I feel now and how great it is and I want to be like that all the time”!

And if at that point you feel like you are in a dream and you “lose the ground under your feet” and you are “above simple mundane life”, worry not! Some rock that is not firm in place or a small piece of slippery mud will appear under your feet, for you to slide and fall on the ground!

There you will start again to restore balance inside you… There you smile, because now you may realize how life can work.

Well, isn’t life like that indeed? A constant sum of overturns, bumps, rises and all over again?

So… Just keep walking and look what is happening without putting a label on it. Either way everything is happening for you to learn from it.

When you learn the very same and exact thing will happen again.

Cheers!

(This article was also published in Greek in Enallaktiki Drasi website (Alternative Action))

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