Monday, June 18, 2012

Mind a walk?

Thich Nhat Hanh wrote, peace is every step.

I connected with this when my footwear disconnected with me somewhere between Piazza Navona and home. 

As it happened, straps on each sandal broke and there were no shops open in which I could get them repaired or replaced.  So I tried to do the ‘kiwi-fixit’* thing and find whatever I could to hold them together.  All attempts failed.

There was only one option. To walk barefoot home.

The difference between cultures can be significant at the best of times. The etiquette on when and where one should go barefoot is certainly one of them.  But even for a barefoot-loving New Zealander, walking in a city without shoes is dubious.

However I did it.

Putting aside the disapproving looks and my own disgust,  it was an opportunity to practise “walking meditation”.

...the act of bringing your attention to the fact that you are walking... 

...slowly and purposefully...

...focusing on putting one foot in front of the other...

...feeling each footfall...

...being fully present in every step...

...with every breath... tune with the sensations within you and around you...

...appreciating the miraculous ability to walk...

Weaving my way through the narrow streets, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say I could feel the energy of Roma as my barefeet came into contact with its worn warm grimy glorious cobbles.

Rome or Riversdale and anywhere in between, wherever you are walking (in the park, down the street, on the beach, along the corridor, in the supermarket..) barefoot or otherwise, try it if you can.

In its profound simplicity, walking meditation can bring you into the calmness, preciousness and fullness of the moment. 

And can therefore literally be, a step towards cultivating your innate mindfulness.


Thich Nhat Hanh, (1991) Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, Bantam Books, UK

* = technical New Zealand term ;)


  1. Hey Pen,

    Indeed a great technique to make your attention to obstacles* go on mute.

    *Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal. - Henry Ford

  2. good one Stelica (and Henry!). quitening the noise and the clutter that distracts us from what is important.