Walking the Line
I remember being on retreat with Sharon at IMS years ago, shortly after one of several breast cancer related surgeries. I came to rest – or so I thought. Getting re-adjusted to a post surgical body turned out to be a trip; it was almost impossible for me to find a comfortable lying down position. There was no rest for the weary.
Our daily practice consisted of 45-minute rounds of alternating sitting and walking meditation. There were about 90 of us on retreat – too many to walk any old which way. So, we were told to walk lines.
I got intrigued when someone said there was a defunct old bowling alley in the basement and that when H.H. the Dalai Lama visited IMS he covered that ground. Off I went in search of his vibration. Even though it was dark there, I found my wooden floor board and faithfully walked it – end to end – over and over again, for 8 days. I saw the Dalai Lama in my mind’s eye – smiling while walking this same floor board. I heard the voice of my root teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) say, “Peace in oneself, peace in the world.” I did my first walking meditation with him years before. There, he said, “Walk for those who are unable to walk. With each step, walk so peacefully that a lotus blossom blooms. Peace in every step.”
When you have a great teacher – like Sharon, Thay or the Dalai Lama, they become part of you. You hear their voice as if it is actually being spoken in the here and the now. When I read Real Happiness, it is as if Sharon is reading to me, because her voice lives in my heart. This can be a great comfort, especially when one is practicing “alone” or going through a difficult time.
To say it’s cold in Chicago is like saying birds fly. No kidding. The weather here invokes a definite bias to stay inside. So I walk lines within my house. I look down at my feet and thank them for being such cute and reliable chauffeurs. I go to my floor board and walk it end to end. Over and over again. I feel my bare feet caress the wood beneath. The wood contains earth elements. I send love to the remains of all the sentient life buried down under. I press my intention to be peace humbly and deeply into the earth. I walk the line.