I’m walking through the woods.
Or am I?
Who is it that is walking?
I’m thinking about something someone had said to me earlier, worrying about something I'd forgotten to do, and I have fleeting thoughts that undermine me.
But my feelings and thoughts come and go like the dark clouds I can see in the distance.
It is a great relief to realise that none of them are ‘me’.
Science tells me that the ‘self’ is just a ‘construct', an invention of the brain working to hold together all of our experiences in a meaningful way.
I find that going for a good walk is a great way of letting go of the burden of ‘me’.
It gives me a rhythmical time for sorting out my thoughts; for coming to terms with my humanity - mortal, afflicted with doubt, feelings of vulnerability and clouded with confusion.
I don't walk away from my problems, I simply put them in perspective. I see them for what they are, and don't allow them to dominate my life with guilt, worry or anxiety.
When walking mindfully I can sometimes find it to be a challenge to let go of my thinking.
So I concentrate on just walking, one foot after the other.
So long as I let my head and heart become clear I know that, later, things will begin to sort themselves out naturally, without effort.
I look outwards, noticing the sounds around me: the rustle of leaves as a squirrel searches for food on the ground; a barge on the canal revving its engine in the distance.
I stop and watch a robin flit from branch to branch.
My head and my heart become clear.
I consciously breathe the air and feel it give life to my body.
The practice of mindful walking, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is a profound and pleasurable way to deepen our connection with our body and the earth. We breathe, take a mindful step, and come back to our true home.