I live across the street from an old Italian couple, straight from southern Italy along with all the other old folks in my neighborhood. In summer, it's hard to tell whether I'm driving along the Rust Belt or the A1, what with all the grape vines, urban chickens, black-clad women planting basil.
Anyway, every single evening, I see Vicky across the street slowly, slowly walking to the stop sign and back again. Just about 100 steps. Over and over, stopping only to return neighborly greetings in Italian. I've always wondered why the heck she doesn't just walk all the way around the block.
Tonight, the weather cooperated and I finally attempted a walking meditation. It felt so strange, to stand outside where all the neighbors could see and just feel my feet on the earth. As I shifted my weight, my thoughts drifted to happiness that I had my headphones and Sharon's voice as a sort of buffer--perhaps people thought I was listening to a really interesting song before I took off for my "real" walk?
But then, I brought my attention back to my feet and set off toward the stop sign. I think I prefer walking meditation to sitting, though I find it more difficult. There is so much to distract me outside, what with the playing children and the sirens and the neighbors chattering in Italian. I certainly didn't get the swelling fullness I've started to experience when I sit in the silence of our upstairs guest room.
Somehow, though, just moving my body and paying attention to each aspect of a step, each "touch," felt wonderful. Moving with deliberation and purpose, even if it was slow going, was fresh and interesting. By the end of the meditation track on the cd, I'd only gotten about as far as the stop sign.
So, like Vicky, I turned around and walked back toward home, slowly and with my hands clasped behind my back. And it was nice, this short journey on flat sidewalk, a path I knew and didn't necessarily need to look at to steady my steps. With my gaze soft and the ground familiar, I could focus entirely on the bones of my feet and the feeling of my hips as I moved.
When I reached my porch, I knew I'd never again think it eccentric when my neighbor took her nightly stroll back and forth, alone with her feet on familiar turf.