There is something rather symbolic about walking alone on a straight and deserted road with no end in sight. I took a 5 mile walk yesterday. I’m not entirely sure why, it just seemed like the right thing to do at the time.
In the early-ish morning quiet on a remote road with only the occasional car, all I could hear was birdsong, my footsteps and the steady rhythm of my breath as I put one foot in front of the other. The repetitive, simple sounds combined with the automatic motion of walking was hypnotic and trance-like; I began to hear myself.
When we give the mind space to settle and be quiet, nothing to figure out or organize, no complex functions to perform or puzzles to complete – it seems that information previously obscured to us begins to surface and with elegant clarity too. The simplicity of walking and breathing in silence becomes a meditation (from Latin: meditatus – to remedy). This is not the same as reflection or rumination either, where the mind wanders and ponders (although one may drop in and out of this) it is a total stillness of being at the deepest level. In this stillness, my consciousness was crystal clear, where I had previously struggled and fought with conflicting thoughts, I sensed release. In that space, it became obvious that there was no requirement for struggle. Relief then peace.
Some of the more intense interactions, happenings and events that we find ourselves involved in, as either passive bystanders or active participants, deliver so much information to us that although it is absorbed at the time, it can only be assimilated afterwards. This is mainly due to the sturdy, standard installation filters that humans develop as a mechanism to accelerate their learning and reduce the risk of danger or death, but rather like overenthusiastic and somewhat dim-witted bouncers, these filters often lack finesse or discernment and so impede entry unnecessarily, leaving us none the wiser and prone to repeating unsatisfactory behaviours or experiences. BUT…
In quietness, the information we require floats easily to the top of our awareness to be fully digested. Our perceptions shift, our judgements soften and our confusion clears.
The state of dropping back into spacious solitude and peacefulness does not require external quietness either (or 5 mile walks) but can be accessed anywhere and anytime with practice. Whether walking, running, painting, gardening, driving or making love – the activity is irrelevant -when the inner state alters to one of complete receptivity and openness, we are in harmony with what is. Ease results.
This state of being is at the heart of fulfillment, contentment and flow, it is our true nature – where all the wonder of being alive originates, although it often gets lost underneath a long list of distractions.
Because we exist in a body that processes, comprehends and feels every joy and every trauma – is an indelible blueprint of everything that has ever happened to us – we require a (daily, in my opinion) physical practice to access this space of stillness where we begin to know our real selves. Thus our actions become more intuitive and less reactive, we experience more ease and less friction and begin to know Wu Wei (being effortlessly in alignment with what is) like stepping into the current of life rather than fighting to swim upstream.
“Be content with what you have;
rejoice in the way things are.
When you realize there is nothing lacking,
the whole world belongs to you.”
― Lao Tzu