At the core of Wise Action is the felt sense of our physical bodies moving through space. So often we go mindless as we move about, distracted by thoughts, sights and other multitasking activities. Is this wise? Think about some time when you had an accident while moving your body (or a vehicle) through space. Would that accident have happened if you had been totally present in your body? When I brought this subject up to the class, every student responded to the topic with a story of having fallen down. So even though this is an important topic for everyone, it clearly becomes increasingly important as we age. I led the meditators in a walking exercise that was similar to a walking meditation, in that our focus was to be present in the felt sense of our bodies, particularly the lower part of the body. It differed from a typical walking meditation in that, to whatever degree we were able, we maintained the mindfulness while bringing the pace up to a more normal level. The aim is to be able to be present while going about our daily activities. Is it possible to be so present? Yes, we can train the mind to use a percentage of our awareness to anchor into the felt sense of moving through space. We can use a percentage of our visual awareness to purposefully notice the relationship of our body to other objects. This is not a fear-based instruction in how to navigate through a minefield of hazards, as if we were playing a video game. If we are rooted in fear, we create more tension and a self-consciousness that makes us second guess and doubt our movements instead of fully inhabiting this physical experience. When we bring more awareness to the dance of life, we experience with gratitude the pleasure of being present and alive. Awareness creates more fluidity and agility. I have put the directions for the walking practice at the end of this post, but first let’s look more specifically at the cause of most accidents: Being distracted, rushed or exhausted. Let's look at each and apply Wise Action:
Destination Focus/Goal Oriented
Destination Focus/Goal Oriented
We know where we are going and we will get there, but to arrive safely, refreshed and fully ready for anything, we need to stay present for the journey itself. Lost in Thought
We may be in the habit of getting a lot of thinking done when we are walking or driving. We put movement on automatic pilot. That is a danger to ourselves and others. And by using that time to think instead of be fully present in the experience of being alive in this moment, we miss out on so much! Devices
This more recent addition to the list of distractions has really been taking a toll in the emergency room. If you receive a call or a text, ignore it until you can stop in a safe place to attend to it. Everyone thinks they are the exception to the finding that we can't safely do more than one thing at a time. The Wise Action is to do only one thing and do it wholeheartedly for the benefit of ourselves and all beings. Visual Delight
We may be enjoying being in the present moment, but we are putting too much focus on the sights around us, and not enough on the path in front of us. We can enjoy our surroundings with all our senses, but some percentage of our awareness needs to stay with the felt sense of moving through space and the relationship of our body to objects in our path. This also applies to driving if we are sight-seeing or getting caught up in thoughts about fellow drivers or interesting spectacles. Rushing
This is another health hazard. We know that when we feel rushed we can get reckless. Our judgment becomes impaired and our sense of connection and kindness are likely to get tossed out the window in our compelling need to get somewhere on time. While it is skillful to meet our social agreements to meet a certain place at a certain time, once it is clear that that is not going to happen, and once we are moving through space, either on foot or driving a potential death delivery system on the road, we need to let go of that urgency to get there, and just be mindful. It will take as long as it takes and no amount of rushing will help. Rushing may hurt or even kill someone! So slow down! Be present. Exhaustion
Accidents also happen when we push too hard, when we are determine to finish a project or get somewhere, and push through our body’s request for rest with determination. This is not Wise Effort. If we are in tune with our body, we take its cues seriously. We acknowledge thirst, hunger and the need to sit or lie down. Usually these needs are easily met and won’t necessarily take a lot of time. Perhaps the rest that’s needed is just a time out for ten or twenty minutes. Then the body is refreshed and better able to do what's needed without all the attending frustration, expletives, shoddy results and physical danger. Wise Action Walking Meditation Practice
Start with standing meditation, coming fully present in the body, adjusting the body to be balanced.
Then start walking, sensing the movement of the limbs. Move as slowly as you need to in order to stay present. Then start moving your arms and stay present with the sense of the arms moving in space, the legs moving in space, the muscles contracting and extending. You can walk normally and be fully present in the body. Simply set your destination, then be present in the walking itself. If we can be present in physical movement we will have a much greater chance of arriving wherever we go in safety. And -- bonus! -- we'll arrive full present to enjoy the experience of being there.