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{Ways of Walking} Walking as Presence

Welcome to Walking as Presence.

Please take some time to listen to the audio above, engage the practices, move with the assignment, and hold all that's being shared with care. As noted in the audio, which is also a guided walking meditation, feel invited to weave all three (audio, practices, and assignment) together as you protect time for this theme. 

Protecting time to be attentive, open, and available to all that is within us and all that is around us ~ even for just five minutes ~ does wonders for our hearts, brains, and being. We are made to be more present. We are made to move in a way that honors ~ WHAT IS ~ and not just what's ahead and what was.

With love and gratitude ~ 

Jonathon

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1. Honoring Details + Photography & Sketching: Bring your camera (or phone) or a small sketchbook (or notebook) as you move into your walk. When you see or connect to something that holds your attention, find a spot to rest or sit. This can be a bench, a patch of grass, a tree stump, or anything in the public realm that can act as a place to sit. Take at least 5-10 minutes to zoom into the detail, noticing it and honoring what it might be saying to you. Capture the moment and the detail with a photo or with strokes from a pencil or pen. 

2. Breathing with Trees: As you move through your day, consider building a new or renewed relationship with trees. See them as invitations to Be Present. See them as invitations to focus on your Breathing. See them AS your breathing, living, and BE-ing partners. When you notice your eyes gazing at a tree a little longer, go towards it, touch it, and rest on it. Look up at its canopy and kneel to honor its roots. Hold presence, wonder, and gratitude for their capacity to turn our carbon dioxide into oxygen and our capacity to turn oxygen into carbon dioxide. You might also enjoy this audio meditation alongside this practice.

3. Flowing Water: This might be my most cherished integration practice in the whole book. It does wonders around cleansing and grounding my Being in just about any situation. As you plan or consider your walking/rolling activity, practice or route, be extra attentive to where there might be flowing water (rivers, streams, creeks, acequias). When you find one, two, or three, be mindful of areas where you can sit and break for 5, 10, or 30-minutes. You might find an area where there are rocks or fallen tree trunks. I highly recommend getting as close as you can to the water, and if you’re comfortable, taking your shoes and socks off and even placing your feet in it. Once you have your spot, simply Be with the rush, the flow, the sound, and the specific essence that our bodies are made of 90% water. What would we be without it? We ARE it. I trust so much that there is an ecosystem of communication and cleansing that happens when we sit by flowing streams. I can’t help but believe with everything in me that it literally helps to carry any stress, doubts, gaps, blocks, burdens, pain, and discomfort. I also believe that it infills the places where there was weight and burden with life, with nourishment. It feels very much like a natural balm for all that I am. 

4. Distinct Sounds*: This practice invites focused awareness on distinct, unique, and sometimes subtle sounds that exist all around you. Consider writing down the following sound examples. Take this list with you and see if you can check off a few of them or all of them while walking. Sometimes you might need to pause, close your eyes, and take a deep breath to allow for greater attention and awareness. If you hear a new sound, or one that you are not used to hearing in a typical day, take pause and allow extra time to let it move in and through you. Notice how you feel and what comes up when you hear it. Example sounds: (1) Your feet walking on various surfaces (or wheels rolling), (2) Unique calls of birds, not blending them all together but trying to notice where they are distinct, (3) Barking dogs or backyard/farm chickens, (4) Sound of wind (as wind, pure), (5) Sound of wind moving through trees, branches, leaves, (6) Sound of people talking, laughing (children playing), (7) Trains and various sirens, (8) Rushing, flowing water (river, creek, gutters, canal, reservoir, streams), (9) Squirrels, critters, and other animals scurrying, chasing, or climbing... What other sounds are you noticing that are unusual or uniquely opening/surprising you? Share them here or with the Facebook group! 

*If you are hearing impaired, take the intention of this practice and filter it with Touch. Notice and reflect on the way textures feel (tree bark, brick wall, leaves, street pole, rocks, sand, etc.

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{Practice One} Nature Sees Me: 

Pause, kneel, honor, and see.

Central Invitation: Humility and presence. Dedicated time with all that wants our attention in the natural world… trees, sky, water, leaves, flowers, bees, sticks, ants, birds. Go beyond just noticing. As you allow yourself to SEE and BE WITH the details of Nature, invite Nature to SEE and BE WITH your own unique and beautiful details.

Prep: You might bring a sketch book, camera, binoculars, or magnifying glass.

Nature Sees Me Audio Meditation: Feel invited to listen to this audio meditation as you begin your movement.

Timing & Location: At least 10-20 minutes. Extra unhurried. Right where you are. Any natural area near you is ideal. That said, the flowers, ants, and rocks living on an urban sidewalk have incredible stories and details if we are patient enough to see it. 

Safety & Health: If near people, please have a mask and wear it when you are 6-10ft in distance. Have water, comfortable shoes/clothing, and sun care.

Before You Begin Moving: Pause and take a few deep breaths. As you breathe, Invite Nature to see you, to reflect back to you, to speak to you, and to honor all the color and complexity moving deep within and through you.

Movement: As you move, be extra mindful of things that you might normally rush past (even on a casual walk/roll). When you notice a flower, a stick, a rock, a bird, or a tree branch catching your attention, try to follow the invitation. Humbly move towards it. Open your eyes, open your heart, and carry a listening spirit. What is the branch saying to you? What is the color of the flower drawing out of you? What are the details in the rock saying? Where do you feel the sound of the flowing stream in your body? 

After you begin making a connection, perhaps you want to write, draw, or capture some of the details. Peer into the color/textures more (with your eyes, with the camera, with touch). Do this multiple times (with as much time as you have) with a variety of Natural objects, scenes, critters, phases of the sunset…

I invite you to use this practice to honor what’s Honest and Real in YOU and in all of creation. I believe that practices like this help us live a life that (A) honors the beauty in others, (B) unquestionably cares for the planet, and (C) heals and tends to our own deep truths/beauty.

Close: Take one or two more deep breaths and commit to a movement practice that helps us deeply SEE Nature while also allowing Nature to deeply SEE us.

Honor and thank your Body and the Earth.

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{Practice Two} Walking Divina: Right Here, Right Now 

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading) and Visio Divina (Divine Seeing) are popular centering and meditative practices in various spiritual, religious (Christian/Mysticism), or non-religious traditions where you move through a process of slowly and more intentionally honoring and listening to the wisdom of words and visuals. They help me to Be Still and notice, beyond noticing. If you search for them online, you will find many iterations for how people might use these practices. This practice, Walking Divina, is inspired by these traditional practices and the forementioned book by Gina Mammano, Camino Divina. For additional guidance, browse additional iterations of Lectio and Visio Divina, and revisit, Re-Spect and the Second Gaze, a practice included in previous posts.

Initial Guidance: Walking Divina can apply to many things around you and in you. Traditionally with Lectio and Visio, participants would be seated and positioned in front of one or many art pieces and guided through four stages - going deeper and deeper into attention and presence with how an image might be speaking to them. As we think about a moving practice, the term 'image' can refer to something in nature, a public mural, a public sculpture, a colorful rock, blossoming flowers, a tree's canopy, flowing water, a human reading on a bench, a photo or image in one's home or workplace... anything that speaks to us or comes to us spontaneously. 

Preparation: You might consider starting your walk with the guided audio meditation I've included/linked with this book ~ to ground, guide, and hold your first steps. If you are unable to listen to the audio while walking for any number of reasons, then simply start with a few grounding deep breaths. Notice and honor your body. Notice and honor wherever you are - on the inside and on the outside. Notice your surroundings. After the guided meditation or after you spend a few minutes grounding yourself, begin to slowly move. Bring and hold your presence and calm attention to your moving body.

Time: At least 20-30 minutes.

Location: Anywhere! Commercial streets, nature trail, front yard, alley, parking lot, anywhere. This is about being Present with wherever this invitation finds you or fits. You might consider doing it in multiple locations to draw from a variety of scenarios. If there is nothing visually inviting you in, notice something on the inside (a thought, emotion, fear, place of anger, place of joy, place of passion, a dream) and go through the stages in Visio Divina as a way of 'seeing' with your heart while walking.

As You Begin to Move: Allow yourself to listen for what might be speaking to you at a contemplative pace. Be patient and open. Be open to what calls for your attention. As you make your way to your image, calmly stop in front of it so you can get a good visual (and so you can touch it if that applies, like bark, like rock, like your pet, etc.). Allow yourself to be guided through the four stages below:

Read aloud or to yourself (or both). I would highly suggest taking a photo of or writing down each of these stages so you have them with you.

(1) See: As you begin to look deeper into your 'image', take a few moments to open your heart and mind. Close your eyes and take a few more deep breaths. When you are ready, open your eyes and slowly look and notice the image, taking your time to let feelings and thoughts come to you as you take in forms, figures, colors, lines, textures, and shapes. What does it look like, or remind you of? What do you find yourself drawn to? What do you like and not like? What are your initial thoughts? What feelings are evoked? 

In this initial stage of your practice, simply notice these responses without judgment or evaluation. If you don't like the image, or the feelings evoked, simply acknowledge that this is your initial response and continue to stay open to the image and the practice. If you have an immediate idea as to what the image means, again, simply acknowledge that this your initial response and stay open to "the more" as the practice unfolds.

{{Pause and close your eyes to honor what you noticed. Walk or move for at least two minutes around and near your image. Feeling your feet. Moving what you saw. After two minutes, return to the image, perhaps from a different angle.}}

(2) Meditate: As your practice expands, close your eyes and take one or two deep breaths. Slowly open your eyes and with an open heart and mind, consider focusing on a specific section or area in the image. New thoughts, new meanings, and new feelings may arise; initial impressions may expand and deepen. Explore more fully the meanings that come to you, and the feelings associated with the image and its colors and forms. Be aware of any assumptions or expectations that you bring to the image. No matter what your response is to the image -- delight, disgust, indifference, confusion -- ponder mindfully the reason for your various responses and what these responses might mean for you.

{{Pause and close your eyes to honor your responses. Walk or move for at least two minutes around and near your image in a new or different direction, or pattern. Notice your body. Moving and being. After two minutes, return to the image, perhaps from a different angle.}} 

{3} Invitation: As your practice deepens, close your eyes and take one or two deep breaths. Open yourself to what the image might reveal to you. What is it, or What is Great Spirit, Nature, Goddess, God wanting to say, evoke, make known, or express to you as you attend to it in quiet meditation? Become aware of the feelings, thoughts, desires, and meanings evoked by the image and how they are directly connected to your life.

Does it evoke for you important meanings or values, remind you of an important event or season, or suggest a new or different way of being? What desires and longings are evoked in your practice? How do you find yourself wanting to respond to what you are experiencing? Imagine what the artist (if this is a painting, photograph, or sculpture) might be trying to communicate. Picture them. Where they are and what they are experiencing. Take time to respond in ways that honor and mirror your practice ~ gratitude, supplication, wonder, lament, pain, freedom, joy, dance, song, praise, etc.

{{Pause and close your eyes to honor meaning. Walk or move for at least two minutes around and near your image in a new or different direction, or pattern. Notice your body. Moving and being. After two minutes, return to the image, perhaps from a different angle.}} 

{4} Embody: As you approach the closing of your practice, close your eyes and take one or two more deep breaths. In the remaining few minutes of your practice with this image, bring to mind or jot down the insights you want to remember, actions you are invited to take, the wisdom you hope to absorb, or any feelings or thoughts you wish to express. Bring your practice to a close while resting in grace and love.

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1. {Intrinsic Paths Content} Poem: Take More Time, Guided Meditation: Calming Cottonwoods & the Rio Grande, Guided Meditation: La Sierra Guided Meditation 

2. {Book} The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings by Thich Nhat Hanh. I carry this book with me everywhere. I will drink a sentence, a page, or occasionally a chapter at a time and walk with the words. I try to hold them, re-read them, and allow them to sink in as I walk. I find that Thich Nhat Hanh's approach is a beautiful balance of radical presence and wholehearted Movement.

3. {Tibetan Singing Bowl Concerts, Meditations} if you haven't attended a live singing bowl meditation yet, do consider it. Search near you to see if there are any nearby. If you can, consider walking all the way or part of the way both to and after. It is a deeply profound and healing experience. I often listen when I walk or when at home. Here is one, by Temple Sounds that I listen to often. 

4. {Black Madonna Pilgrimage} Reflections, Resources and Practices by Dr Christena Cleveland on Patreon. Beautiful invitations and practices to deepen presence alongside social and racial justice in and around Dr Christena's walking journey visiting Black Madonnas in rural France. Join and learn more here. 

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Reminders & Invitation:

Flow: Remember. Make these invitations YOURS. Edit them. Adapt them. Modify them. Have so much grace for when you get to them and how it all unfolds. No rules. Only invitation.

Feedback: Please feel more than invited to offer me feedback below in the comment area or privately. I would love to know how you're receiving and moving through the Ways of Walking workshop/series ...barriers, gaps, things that work really well, things that could be improved. All of it.

Join the Community Group! If you haven't yet joined our in-house Ways of Walking community group on the Intrinisic Paths website, please do so here. A great space to share experiences, questions, photos, and more.

Support: If you have found meaningful value inside of this invitation, please consider joining as a Patron. Your Patronage and involvement mean the world to me.

Share and Invite: Please feel encouraged to invite your peers and colleagues into this workshop.

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Thank you for moving alongside! 

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By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 167 exclusive posts
12
Audio releases
143
Images
3
Links
5
Polls
13
Writings
64
Videos