Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The truth may be a walk around a lake

Shaver Pond, Rensselaer County, New York

"The truth may be a walk around a lake," wrote Wallace Stevens. When I need to get rid of the clutter of negative thoughts and everyday worries, there are few things better than a good long walk around a lake in the woods near my home in upstate New York. As I get back in sync with the rhythms of the natural world, I both lose myself - that is to say, my little self - and return to my deeper self.

There are several phases to a walking meditation.

As in sitting meditation, I start by paying attention to my breathing. I try not to interfere with its flow, though the most immediate effect of this refocusing of awareness is to produce longer, more regular inhalations and exhalations. My breathing changes as I set off at a faster clip across open ground. After a time, I find I am following my breath without trying to regulate its autonomic flow. When I reach the awareness that my breath is breathing me, I have already released many of the burdens I brought with me.

Now I extend my awareness into my body's movements over the rough ground. The play of light across leaves and lake water is beguiling, but it is still outside myself. I am not yet at one with it, My efforts to find stillness in gentle motion are threatened by the return of troubles and calculations that were with me before I came here. They gesture and snicker, pressing for my attention.

Separated from the natural forest by my jungle of thoughts, I focus on one thought. It rises spontaneously: I will follow the flow of light, within me and around me.

I speak a simple affirmation at the water's edge:

I give thanks for the morning. I give thanks for the day. I give thanks for the gifts and the challenges of this lifetime. I will follow the Light.

I am humming, then toning, letting the vowel sounds soar to higher and higher pitch. A song bubbles up in me, and I smile when it bursts free. I sing aloud all the way to the beaver lodge at the eastern edge of the lake, and for another mile more to the abandoned jetty on the far side. The effect of my off-key warbling is to open a space at the center of my consciousness. At its distant periphery, I can observe old images of fear and worry and confusion, looming up then falling away like blown leaves as I choose to deny them the energy of my attention and belief.

As my inner space continues to expand and deepen, I feel again, blessedly, in contact with that still small voice you know you need never question.

I celebrate and join in the sparkling beauty of the natural world around me. I breathe with the swaying branches of the evergreens. I shrug off my clothes and splash and swim in the lake. I am at one with everything around me. I could stay here all day, but words come flocking and I must go home and write.


Anonymous said...

There is nothing better than walking in the woods...or on a dirt road with trees crossing overhead...I love to get lost in the sounds of nature... I have a sort of internal chant I repeat in my head over and over until it fades away and I find myself more open to the present moment...it seems the wildlife knows when you've gotten to that internal quiet, and they all come out to look. Your lake sounds blissful.

Robert Moss said...

Grace, you are so right!

Wanda said...

This is such a beautiful meditation. I can see this becoming part of one of your workshops when you are near an accessible woods and water. Set everyone off with this simple walking meditation and ask them to go with the intent of releasing everything that clutters their minds and finding their deeper truth. This could generate a week or weekend of even deeper dreaming and visioning - with all clutter and confusion left behind.

My visitors at the historic site today were 30 school children. One of the first questions was about a bound fan of feathers. I explained how the fan was used sympbolically to sweep a space clear, to set aside negative thoughts and to find a deeper part of "self" so that those gathered could speak their truth and be heard without the interference of past problems and past judgements. The children found an immediate attachment to that idea and asked their teacher if they could make something like that for the classroom. The teacher thought it was an excellent idea - there are only a few weeks left for this class; but the teacher told me later she might make this a fun assignment for the beginning of the school year and use it as a device for communication when issues between students or between the teacher and students got a bit thorny.

Robert Moss said...

Wanda - That's a grand suggestion for starting any retreat in an appropriate setting. It could extend into what the Iroquois call a Confession on the Road - getting whatever we need to get off our chests in the presence of animate nature.

What a beautiful exchange with the schoolkids and their teacher. What a quite lovely idea, to make a "wing" to sweep a space clean of negative thoughts and allow everyone to speak their truth. If they do this, and you are still in touch with them, I hope you'll get them to send you photos. I'll bet readers here would love to see those too!

Don said...

I agree, Robert, that meditating while walking can work wonders. However, I think it makes a big difference where one walks. In places where there have been severe battles and/or massacres, the ambiance of those events is still present. That will arise in meditation. Of course it is possible to go beyond that ambiance into previous times. But I do not think that is probable if the ambiance is really strong.

Rather, I think, it is best to walk in places without such a history. Or at least with a favorable recent history. Then the meditations can bring forth a knowledge of a oneness with nature, a oneness with each other, a oneness with all that is. Then birds will sing and animals will stand pleasantly by. Inner questions will be answered.

Yes, I think it makes a big difference where one walks. I suggest places with a history of peace and beauty.

Robert Moss said...

Don - You are quite right to suggest that we choose our walking paths carefully. As you clearly know well, the land does hold the memory of those who have lived and died and struggled there - and in unfortunate cases, whose troubled energies may not have moved on.

Janice said...

Hi, Robert!

One of my favorite things to do!

Kate said...

Machaelle Small Wright has a "Battle Energy Release Process" in her book, Perelandra Garden Workbook, II. She lives in Virginia and has done this process at Gettysberg.

Three years ago I was living in a lovely place with a beautiful view of the mountains, but there was one problem after another. So I decided to move on. I found out that the property had changed hands frequently.

I decided to do the "Battle Energy Clearing Process." What came up was a steady stream of energies rising out of the earth. This lasted almost an hour. I came to understand that eons ago this had been a place of ritual human sacrifice.

According to her process, I asked Nature to "release all the battle energies with gentleness and ease," and then requested the energies to move to their next higher level within the universe.

The property sold within two months.