The other night, I was returning home from work when it started to rain. Yet another aggravation in an already hard day… The icy rain felt even colder as the winter wind whistled between the buildings. As the rain turned into sleet and snow, all I could think about was everything I dislike about winter. I imagined yet another year of dealing with wet boots, chapped lips, and snowstorms.
As I walked, I let my mind wander. The city sparkled with holiday lights; the air was fragrant with Christmas trees for sale. I took a moment to center myself. What was I so annoyed about? The snow I had worried would wreck my shoes now seemed magical as it gently floated to the ground.
With each step, I let go of the small aggravations. When I took a moment to truly experience my walk home, it was hard to feel frustrated. I was reminded of a mindfulness practice—a walking meditation I’d read about on Buddhist teacher Jack Kornfield’s website. He described how the simple, natural movement of paying attention to walking can help us become more present and alert.
Use the walking meditation to calm and collect yourself and to live more wakefully in your body. Practice at home first. You can then extend your mindful walking in an informal way when you go shopping, whenever you walk down the street or walk to or from your car. You can learn to enjoy walking for its own sake instead of the usual planning and thinking and, in this simple way, begin to be truly present, to bring your body, heart and mind together as your move through your life.
I definitely experienced what Kornfield described as I strolled through the city. It only takes a small shift of thought to improve your outlook and be more present.
What negative thought can you shift today?