Walking Meditation in a Winter Wonderland

I’ve read a bit on walking meditation as I’ve always been a dedicated walker due to being not much of a driver or into “working out”. So this type of meditation always seemed to be one I could see working for me. Sunday, after battles over snowsuits and appropriate winter attire, (No, you cannot wear your yellow hard hat instead of your warm, winter hat in 20 degree weather!) we set out to explore the newly fallen snow. (Finally, snow!) A toddler is a master lesson in walking meditation. Z was totally focused on one step in front of the other in his boots as he explored snow on bushes, climbing curbside mountains, scooping snow up with a wooden spoon. There was little conversation, just quiet. We wandered into the local park and he unburied favorite toys. It was amazing to watch him take in the newness of the familiar world around him. Before I had a kid, I did not look forward to the snow as it made traveling where I wanted to go difficult for me. This year, I was disappointed how long we had to wait for the first snowfall. Without it, winter is just cold and gray and dreary. The whiteness of the snow sparkles everything up. Later that afternoon, after a two-sandwich lunch, he conked out for a long, winter’s nap. After seeing him, I’d like to try a walking meditation myself being mindful of the world through the eyes of a toddler.

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Walking

I love to walk. In fact, walking is the only exercise I can tolerate, besides yoga and even with yoga I run out of patience. There’s nothing I love more than packing up the stroller, grabbing an iced coffee, and heading out for the morning.

It’s rare when I’m walking without a stroller. Jonathan Franzen wrote in his book Freedom about a mother walking encumbered by the stroller with bags hanging off of it running her stroller errands. This totally fits me. And although I love it and am lucky my son loves it, I always feel amazingly free to be walking without one.

A few times it has happened lately that didn’t involve rushing to or from work. One was after putting our son to bed, I got a craving for ice cream. With my husband lodged on the couch, I set out down the street to the local ice cream shop on a summer night. It was still cool and as I was walking, there was a light breeze. I saw couples entering and leaving neighborhood restaurants and I realized, oh yeah, not everyone needs to jump through hoops to arrange a babysitter to go out. Some people have a nightlife. I felt a glimmer of who I used to be, someone who went out, who followed her every whim.

When I’m without the stroller, I run across streets without having to wait for the light. I can run into a shop without needing a team of people to hold the door for me. It’s amazingly freeing. I don’t even need a bag. I find myself volunteering to run out for a last minute grocery item or a bottle of wine just to savor the feeling.