Inner  Frontier
Cultivating Spiritual Presence

 

Inner Work


For the weeks of June 3 & 10, 2019

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Walking from Within

(Spiritual Walking: 3)

When you walk, where are you? Or better yet, where are you walking from? Both questions have external, spatial answers. But those are usually irrelevant with regard to our spiritual inner work. The questions are about where we are inwardly, and where we are acting from.

Let's start with the first one: when we walk, where are we? The question itself implies we are somewhere. Are we somewhere? Do we even exist? We can walk quite well automatically, in total absence and fragmented distraction. Perhaps a long-running train of thoughts is raging through our mind and we have disappeared into it, while our body keeps moving right along. So our first challenge in spiritual walking is to be somewhere, namely to be here in our body as we move. That then entitles us to take on the next challenge of staying here in our body as we move.

We walk in our body. We relax into our body and inhabit it as we walk. We give ourselves over to abide in our body. We inhabit every step. At first, this requires continuing effort to return to our body soon after we lose that contact, again and again. After considerable practice, we accustom ourselves to being and staying in our body more of the time, whenever we walk.

We come also to the second question: where are we walking from? Where is the impetus for walking? Is there any ongoing spark, or does our walking proceed solely by momentum? Momentum is fine in walking, including in spiritual walking. But there can be more. We can be there, in our body, intending the forward motion. Not that we are engaged in moving each foot forward, one step at time; we let the automatic and sensitive energies take care of the mechanics and momentum of walking, as they should. Rather, we are behind the steps, their source. They come from us, from our intention to move. We not only inhabit our body, we inhabit the motion of walking. We are the walker, the one who is walking. We walk from ourselves, from within.

The experience of intending our walking is of walking on purpose, with an ongoing resolve. We walk with purpose, as purpose. We walk with intention, as intention. We move, and we maintain the intention to move. We are our will. Our intention comes from us, from the real us.

This is quite different from simply setting an intention to walk from here to there, and then letting that intention recede into the background as our body carries it out and our mind falls into a passively scattered state. If we are outside and the weather is nice, this mode of walking with a passively scattered mind can be quite pleasant, at least in those moments where our attention happens to come together to notice what our senses are bringing.

When we walk with intention, however, our thoughts may still run on automatically, but we are not running with them, we are not scattered. Rather, our energies collect around our intention, like iron filings organized by a magnet. Our intention unifies us and makes us whole. The walking may still be quite pleasant, but now it is much richer than that. We are filled with meaning and fully alive.

For this week, please practice walking from within.


        

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