On these bitterly cold days, I miss my routine of taking my dog for a walk. I live beside a park and it is so exhilarating to be with nature and just settle. My greatest joy on the walk is not seeing other people or dogs or even the nature. It is teaching my mind to slow down and connecting with my intimate thoughts.
I used to spend the walk furiously correcting my dog to walk the right way and blaming myself and her that she was not following orders. Then one day, I just realized that there was a better way. I began to realize that I was disconnected and lost in thought. As I became more at peace and felt a smile come across my face, I began to enjoy the walk and the slow and methodical pace. The actual experience of the walk was the joy I began to feel. The truth of the event I was experiencing made the walk more and more joyful.
I began to see that what I do matters. The slowness of each step, the soft glance of what is in front of me, and the pace I extend my legs is real and concrete — not a disconnected thought. My breath of going in and out is mindful and methodical. When a thought does come in to my mind, I can choose to care in that moment, analyze, but then lovingly pass it away as gently as it came in. This happens continually, but the gesture to go back to what is real is the most important procedure we can do.
In the beginning, when we adopt a slower way of life, it can feel awkward. We are used to not knowing why things happen, but being in a slow position in life we start to care how we do things. Trying to do one thing at a time, such as a pause before speaking or a breath before a movement, is troublesome. We want to do things as we always have — quickly. As we slow down, we begin to notice how our body feels. The body does not lie, but the mind can be shameless. Honest and truthful, we can accept our body and notice, “This is how my body feels at peace (or at stress).” The imprint of our events is on our heart, mind and our body.
Moliere once said, “The trees that are slow to grow, bear the best fruit.” I remind myself of this quite often as I walk. My dog enjoys sniffing ahead of me and I watch her paw prints in the ground. I see a cardinal land on a tree and I hear an eagle ahead on the trail beside the Mississippi River. It is quite a joy to be alive in this moment — and then I remember to feel my breath again, and my legs, and continue to walk on.