Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet (3/7/2017)

The Buddhist philosopher/scholar/Zen-master Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his book “Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life”: 

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”   

That is what I try to do when I walk in the woods behind our house.  I just love to linger, look around and be mindful.  At times I enjoy the blue sky, look at the clouds, or how the sunlight plays with the bark on the trees.  Other days it may drizzle or it may be misty.  You often hear birds, sometimes there are swans in the ponds, sometimes you hear them flying over, and often you see deer darting off the path especially early in the morning or around dusk; no day is the same.  When I can, I will do it: I let my feet, eyes and senses kiss the earth.

I took this picture during our most recent walk in the woods behind our home.  I ventured of the regular path to  look at this pond and liked how the trees lined up.  When I arrived home, Google had somehow enhanced the photograph into what you see here, and actually I liked it and want to share it with you all.
Thich Nhat Hanh is also reported to have said: 

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”

Recognizing that miracle, savoring it, and protecting it is so important for us and that curious child and all future children.  I would like to add that we need to live as if we are kissing the Earth with our souls.  

Naturally there are days that I or we cannot linger and enjoy our walk as we should.  We are on a mission, we have to walk the dogs and then go to work, go to church, run errands, or go do something.  Let’s walk to the pond, the green woods, the "cookie tree" (that is the tree where the dogs always get a treat in the hope that when they get lost in the woods that they will return to), or the road we tell each other.  We may even put the dogs on a leash so they don’t doddle.

Sometimes those days can be frustrating, the dogs did not cooperate.  They ran through the mud or went swimming; they were sniffing too long and we were in a hurry, you name it.  Other times, even though we were in a hurry, you come back recharged; you saw something in the woods, you experienced something, or there was something intangible that flipped that switch that made you feel good (anyway).

But the other thing can sometimes happen also: a well-intended walk gone bad!  We had a few.  Recently one of our dogs disappeared.  We split up and spend a frantic hour looking for him, to be called by someone that they had found him and were at our home to drop him off.  This weekend we came upon a place where someone had been illegally cutting firewood in the woods behind our homes.  Instead of ignoring it and continuing our walk, the firewood hoarders we are, we stole two good looking pieces of wood that had been split and carried them home.  All the sudden our mindful walk in the woods became work and heavy lifting in the woods and much less enjoyable.  Gone was the meditation.  On top of that our deaf beagle all the sudden seemed to lose sight of us and did not know where we were and my wife had to chase her down.  There went our nice enjoyable meditative walk kissing the earth with our senses, out of the window.

In his book “Being Peace” Thich Nhat Hanh writes:  

“An oak tree is an oak tree. That is all it has to do. If an oak tree is less than an oak tree, then we are all in trouble.”

Those two pieces of wood were oak and we are happy that they are.  They are heavy and will heat our home for an hour, even though it interrupted our more mindful walk.

This is what I have been thinking and writing about lately: "Forest Bathing" and "Nature Deficit Disorder".  It is so important to spend time in and with nature; whether it is walking in the woods, working in your garden, attending your potted plants (or bonsais in my case), or just standing there, staring at a tree.  It heals, lowers the blood pressure and is good for you.  Go outside, enjoy nature and fight to preserve it for you and future generations!

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