Tortoise Walking: the practice of walking meditation.
Sometimes I wake up with a scattered mind. I’ll lay on my back trying to focus on the felt sensation of the breath in my nostrils and the breath in my belly at the same time. This usually comes easily and is the beginning of my regular morning practice including mindfulness, breath work, visualisation, affirmation and movement.
However this morning I woke up with a scattered mind and could not focus wakefully. My breathing tipped me back in to sleep each time I tried: my attention could not grip that moment that usually ushers in a synchronised rhythmic awareness and presence. Instead I twitched impatiently, irritated by a mild frustration which intruded like a dust devil flinging the grit of fleeting thoughts everywhere.
Then, I let go of trying…
I stood up and left the house in the shadowy almost preternatural gloaming between dawn and sunrise.
I walked to the nearby park then at an incredibly slow tortoise like pace, I walked a twenty metre circumference around a circular fenced bush garden: my mind in the moment, my breathing anchoring me to it and at a speed that took me 40 minutes to complete my circuit!
My scattered mind was completely replaced by clarity and purpose! Consider the tortoise... it walks, slowly, ponderously and without the stress of hurrying. It seems to us as though its awareness is completely in the moment and this is more than likely true. However, whether this is true or not for the tortoise, that it what I was able to achieve.
How to Walk Like a Tortoise
Begin by first focusing on the felt sensation of your breath in your nostrils. Keep this awareness, throughout the practice, it will help to anchor you back to the moment (your breath is always happening now). start walking very slowly and then slow down even more until it feels as though you are walking too slowly even for slow walking! Let your hands hang loosely and comfortably at your sides: this is a practice to be carried out in silence.
With each step, pay attention to the rise and fall of your feet. Notice the muscle movement in your legs and the rest of your body. Notice any shifting of your body's balance, to far forward or backward or from side to side.
You might be distracted, your mind will probably wander, so without frustration, guide it back again by focussing as many times as you need on the felt sense of your breath and the feel of your feet treading the ground. Do this in silence, even if the distraction is people looking at you or trying to speak to you.
Try to listen expand your sound awareness wherever you are in the woods, the city street or indoors, pay attention to sounds and just note that you can hear them. If you find yourself getting distracted by them, return your attention to the felt sense of your breath and the feel of your feet treading the ground.
Pay attention to smells and just note that you can smell them. If you find yourself getting distracted by them, return your attention to the felt sense of your breath and the feel of your feet treading the ground.
Pay attention to your vision, notice what you can see peripherally, don't get caught up in identifying sights, just note that you can see them. If you find yourself getting distracted by them, return your attention to the felt sense of your breath and the feel of your feet treading the ground.
As you are finishing, remain focused on your awareness of the physical sensations of walking, return your attention to the felt sense of your breath and the feel of your feet treading the ground and stay in that awareness. When you finally stop stand still and choose a way to end the practice. Perhaps some chi gung or other breath practice, maybe a symbol you draw or an affirmation you speak as you finish and consider how you might bring this kind of awareness into the rest of your day.
This practice is one I have been sharing when facilitating the practice of: Physical Storytelling
See what YOU can gain from Physical Storytelling
Learn how to use your body to make your storytelling, facilitation, presentations etc, more compelling
Learn how to build a community of practice,
Learn Breathwork and Voice projection
Learn how to explore personal story through the body
Learn physical mindfulness techniques, including - Embodiment, presence and Manyamas (African Theatrical Animal forms).
Learn to use physicality intentionally to connect emotionally with audiences
Learn Creative Story Journeying
Learn a toolkit of Inspired and easy to use Physical Storytelling practices that you can immediately practice yourself or share with others
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