A few weeks ago, I wrote about the benefits of wandering. Recently, at the meditation and writing retreat with Natalie Goldberg, we practiced slow walking before writing, and I mean very slow, at about a quarter of our regular speed. Natalie writes in her book, Thunder and Lightning,
The walk is not a hike; I might just circumambulate my room. I probably look like a zombie, but I’m not in a trance; I’m actually paying very close attention to my feet. I’m feeling my right foot flex – those adorable toes spreading, the light spongy mass of my heel lifting, my weight shifting to the left side. Then I sense my knee bending, my right hip dropping, my body falling forward as I move my foot a small space above the floor, then settle it on the ground again. As I slow down, space becomes immense, time is huge. Lifting, bending, placing – who am I? In this unhurried, compassionate life, what is it I want to say?
We practiced waling this way around the perimeter of the Zen center at Upaya; 70 of us walking slowly and intentionally, occasionally stopping to check in with ourselves. It is in this unhurried place where we can really see what’s right in front of us. We can hear what we have to say.
Goldberg said that most of the time when we walk, we’re focused on our destination, getting from A to B. Often, our minds are lost in thoughts about something in our lives that’s already happened, or what we’re going to do when we get to point B. Slow walking is a practice that helps us to focus on the journey, not where we came from or the destination.
She advised a radical reframing – receive the world as it comes, one step at a time, and respond accordingly.
In terms of photography, slow walking gives us the time and space to see what’s calling to us to photograph in the moment. Sometimes we need a practice like this to slow us down, not just physically but mentally as well.
Try a slow and purposeless walk sometime soon and notice how it changes your experience.
How to Slow Down – a short video with Bill Murray
The Slow Death of Purposeless Walking – Finlo Roher at the BBCRead More