13 Nov
Posted in: Practice, Retreats
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Take Your Question for a Walk

One of the practices that Phillip Moffitt offered at the recent weekend retreat at Flowering Lotus was something he called: Taking Your Question for a Walk. I’d never heard of it before, but I was immediately drawn to it. Here’s how it goes:

Just like in regular walking practice, you find someplace to walk….it can be inside or out…a short path or hallway or whatever, of about 10-20 paces, where you can walk back and forth comfortably, without having to navigate around anything.

You stand at the beginning of the path and you ask your question three times (silently or out loud…however you like). This is not for small, casual questions like “should I go to Cancun or the Bahamas for vacation,” or “what color should I paint the bedroom”…although who knows, maybe it would help.

And it’s not really for big, abstract questions like “what is the Meaning of Life.” It’s more for open, but directed, near-term questions like “what can I do, in the next week or month, to ease the suffering in my life?” In fact, he suggested that very question if a different one didn’t naturally pop up.

So you stand at the beginning of the walking path, ask the question three times…then forget about it. Just walk — mindfully — paying attention to what it feels like to walk (the touch sensation of each foot as it comes into contact with the ground, for example, or the tightening and release of the muscles in the calves or thighs as they move through space). Don’t think about the question. Don’t look around at the scenery. Don’t plan what you’re going to have for dinner. Just feel what it feels like to walk.

Do this for 20 or 30 minutes. (When you do find yourself thinking about the question, or checking out the scenery, or planning to get take-out for dinner…just smile at yourself…and go back to the feel of your foot on the floor.)

Then when the 20 or 30 minutes is up: stop, and bow to the path.

And see what presents itself.

Maybe you will sense that something has shifted and you now have a very clear understanding of the new direction you need to be moving in. Or maybe a phrase or image will arise in your mind. Or a physical sensation. Or maybe it will seem like nothing at all has happened…until later, when you realize that somehow you have naturally starting doing things differently. Or maybe not.

Who knows.

It’s a mystery.

Check it out.


(image by Edward Gorey from “Gorey Creatures”)

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