Walking Meditation & the Magic of the Puddles: In Consort with Rumi & Thick Nhat Hahn.
Robin B. Zeiger, Ph.D.
“Not only the thirsty seek the water, the water as well seeks the thirsty.” Rumi
One quiet morning after the rains, I discovered the thirsty and powerful waters in the puddles behind my house.
I was out walking my dog, Bella amongst the quiet, green fields. I did not intend to “find” anything. Because it was the rainy season in my country, I found myself a bit annoyed at having to negotiate my way around the large muddy puddles that took up most of the path. If I was not careful, I knew I would slip into the mud.
I have traversed these self-same fields for over thirteen years. Yet, it is interesting how often there is also something new to notice. On this day, the sun shone at just the right angle, and I “saw” as if for the very first time, the beauty of the puddles. The blue sky and sparse clouds were reflected in the water in a way suggestive of a magical world.
While Bella looked a bit quizzically at me, I walked slowly from puddle to puddle. I wanted to find the one that spoke to me the most. I couldn’t really choose. Each one offered a slightly different perspective.
Without intention, I think I unwittingly discovered moments of mindfulness that so easily elude me in my busy life. I let go of doing in order to wonder and just “be.”
I am reminded of the deep value Thick Nhat Hahn gave to walking meditation. In his words from Peace in Every Step:
Although we walk all the time, our walking is usually more like running. When we walk like that, we print anxiety and sorrow on the Earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the Earth.
What was most captivating for me? I saw the clouds, trees, grass, and sky reflected in them and I imagined the heavenly and Godly.
It was as if I were gazing at a three-way intersection between the heavens, the earth, and the underworld. I didn’t want to look up at the sky. Nor did I want to look at the green fields next to me. Rather, I wanted to imagine the “other-world” that stood before me on the path.
Suddenly I did not see muddy waters, I discovered the beauty and muddiness of life intermixed in one sacred space and moment.
There is one other interesting and perhaps necessary ingredient to this story. That morning I was unusually without my phone. I often find myself decrying how much time we all spend with our technology. We become distracted, obsessed, and sometimes numbed by the pings and instant messaging. It is as if we have betrayed our partnership with the world at our feet. Instead, we have traded the earth as Other for a strange love affair with the world-wide-web. Like everyone else, I can walk in the fields and on the streets of our towns and cities without seeing and sensing. I too, become caught up in the technology.
At first, I was disappointed by the loss of my phone. I couldn’t capture the moment with my camera. The sky was just right for the magical reflections in the waters. Yet would I have even noticed if I was with my phone?
Without my phone, I was challenged to capture the beauty inside of Self. Here was the gift of timelessness and human imagination.
I knew though, I had to return with my phone to attempt to capture the moments.
My art is my writing, and my writing is my art. Yet, my art cannot remain in silence. My soul must be an artist in relationship to the Other. I need my readers and fellow journeyers to relate with and to me.
Thus, I invite you into the world of the puddles. I invite you to see beyond the muddy waters- to stop for a moment, breathe, introspect, and imagine. Enter the portal to the other-worldly space of Anima Mundi, the world soul.
Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet. Thick Nhat Kahn
Rumi (1207–1273) was a Persian poet, Islamic scholar and theologian and Sufi mystic. His poems have been widely translated into many world languages and he has been described as the most popular poet in the U.S. 3 discovered the numinous and divine in the world. It was as if I gazed for a moment at the intersection between heaven and earth.
Robin B. Zeiger is a practicing Jungian psychoanalyst and a free-lance writer.
She is a member of the:
International Association of Analytical Psychology and the Israel Institute of Jungian Psychology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.