-Thich Nhat Hanh
When I first read this from Tich Nhat Hanh, I thought it was a little simplistic. And yet it is true that I gain peace often when I walk. Not all the time, but most of the time. A friend mentioned something similar – that she walks to get herself into a better place, and that sometimes this doesn’t work for her.
So I asked her about when walking doesn’t work for her. She came up with three things – walking doesn’t work when:
- She’s physically tired and she forces herself to walk;
- She’s pre-occupied: when pre-occupied she is busy going over her thoughts and isn’t attentive to her surroundings;
- When she’s pre-occupied and alone: when she’s alone as well as pre-occupied, she has no chance to voice her thoughts and thus remove them from her mind.
- I ignore my physical needs for some idea that I believe is truer than the reality of my situation. It is true that walking is good for me, but only if I’m physically ready for it. Otherwise, it’s actually bad for me.
- I’m pre-occupied. When I’ve got something on my mind, I’m like a terrier with a bone, single-mindedly gnawing away at it. But unlike a real bone, my mental one doesn’t diminish with my efforts, but grows to the exclusion of all else.
- I’m pre-occupied and alone. Sometimes the only way I can let go of that “bone” is to talk it out with a friend who’s willing to listen for a while. This works for me because I set limits on how long I can talk something out before letting it go.
One thing that’s always true for me is that when I ignore reality or fall into pre-occupation, it’s because I’m moved by fear. I may have ignored my physical health, then suddenly decide to do something about it, fearing I’ll get sick as a result of my prolonged neglect. Or I worry that something I’ve been putting all my effort into will be stopped by something out of my control; so instead of accepting that this sometimes happens, I hang on to it by worrying – as if worrying gives me control over the uncontrollable.
Thich Nhat Hahn, in his quote, said walking peacefully. I would add walking mindfully, in connection to the surroundings, including others. Perhaps that’s why talking something out with a friend, mindful of how what I say is impacting my friend, works for me. It gets me out of myself, and my need to control what I can’t. I’d like to leave the last word to Tich Nhat Hanh in the following video.
Thich Nhat Hanh: The Miracle of Walking of the Earth
– Nelson Mandela