We know that all things are impermanent, but do we really live according to this insight? If we did, we would surely treasure each moment, for we have no guarantees for the next moment … One minute enjoying cycling in the countryside, the next minute lying on the ground with the bicycle on top of me. I hit a patch of soft sand, the front wheel ploughed into it, causing a sudden stop, I flew off the bicycle and landed (hard) on the road, unable to move. Luckily Maurice was with me, and he fetched the car and helped me up. Next day I had my first experience of being wheeled on a wheelchair for xrays at the Knysna private hospital, feeling the sympathetic gazes of other patients in the hospital. Luckily nothing was broken or fractured, but I suffered from badly bruised knees, hip, shoulder, hand, whiplash on my neck, and a sprained ligament in my groin - which was why I couldn’t walk.


Walking is one of the things I love most. It is one of the joys of living at the coast, with such close proximity to the beach. My day is not the same without a long walk on the beach, my four-legged children panting and smiling at my side. Surrounded by the five s’s: sun, sand, sea, sky, and space that stretches to the horizon, allows your mind to expand beyond its small preoccupations and touch the blueness of the sky, the white clouds, the distant mountains. Every day I say: Thank you that I have legs and I can walk. Being grateful for the simple things in life brings contentment, so I try to remember them.


I realised how much I take my body and its health and mobility for granted. But when you are on crutches and can’t move around freely, you are reminded just how precious this body is, and how wonderful are its mechanisms and muscles that allow you to move so easily and effortlessly. One of my teachers, THICH NHAT HANH always says: Be grateful for your non-toothache! Usually we are only grateful for something when we loose it, and then it is too late. We should practice being grateful for and treasuring things while we have them. Every once in a while it is good to get sick, or have an accident, for it reminds us how blessed we are to enjoy good health. Health arises in dependence upon the body, and happiness arises in dependence upon the mind.


During our May Retreat: INTRODUCTION TO MEDITATION, we practiced sitting and walking meditation. Most people love walking meditation, and find it much easier than sitting meditation. Its positive effects are experienced within a short period of time: enhanced concentration and focus, a feeling of connectedness, centeredness, solidity and groundedness. I am happy to report that I am walking again, slowly and very mindfully, for the slightest little twist in my groin is painful. Suffering can bring extra mindfulness! Please enjoy and practice the below extracts from THICH NHAT HANH’s book Touching the Earth: ‘walking in freedom’ and ‘mindful walking’:




Life is only possible in the present moment. In the past I have discarded the present moment in my search for an illusory happiness in the future. Now, thanks to the teaching of dwelling happily in the present moment, I have begun to wake up. My mindful breathing and walking bring me back to the present, and in this moment I am able to experience the wonders of life, here and now.


From now on I shall practice so that every step I take will bring me back to the present moment, to life, and to my true home. Whenever I take a step I shall be aware of my breathing and the wonderful contact between the sole of my foot and the surface of the Earth. I shall not speak during walking meditation. While I am walking I shall put all my heart into every step and nourish the happiness that will refresh and heal my body and mind. 


I want each of my steps to contain the energy of solidity and freedom, bringing me back to the present moment. I vow that every one of my steps will help me to be in touch deeply with life and the wonders of life. I know that I am alive, I have two healthy feet, and to walk as a free person on this planet Earth is a miracle. I shall practice mindful walking everywhere I go, so that I can express my love, respect and care for our precious Earth.


When I make steps with mindfulness, peace and joy, the Pure Land of the Buddha manifests immediately; the Kingdom of God becomes available right away. All the wonders of life are available in this moment – the budding leaves, the pebbles, the streams, the sound of the birds, the breeze, the ray of sunlight, the moon, the sparkling stars in the midnight sky. Yet, because I have often been pushed and pulled in many directions as I walk, I have not always been able to touch these wonderful things of life.


I want to walk on this planet Earth as a free person. Around me are people who do not walk as free people. They only know how to run. They run into the future because they think that happiness cannot be found in the present moment. They are walking on the Earth but their minds are up in the clouds. They walk like sleepwalkers, without awareness of where they are going. I also have the habit to lose my peace and freedom as I walk. 


In the past I had the habit of walking as if someone were chasing me. I just wanted to arrive quickly and did not have stability and inner freedom while walking. I shall organize my daily life so that whenever I need to go somewhere on foot I shall walk mindfully, whether the distance is near or far. In the forest, by the bank of a river, or in the marketplace, I shall practice walking meditation, so that I can produce and radiate the energy of ease, freedom, stability, peace and joy wherever I go. 


I want to walk as someone who is awake, peaceful and free. With every step I take my feet will truly touch the Earth and I shall be aware that I am walking on the ground of reality and not in a dream. Walking like that, I am in touch with everything that is wonderful and miraculous in the universe. I vow to walk in such a way that my feet will impress on the Earth the seal of freedom and peace. I know that steps taken like this have the capacity to heal my body and mind as well as the planet Earth itself.



SAT CHIT ANAND namaste to you Buddha-to-be! 

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