Happy New Year!
Art by Carlos Estevez

Do you ever blend your spiritual knowledge and practices with fitness routines? Or take those same teachings and apply them in a new, practical way? The story Thich Nhat Hanh tells below is one reason I collect significant quotes, and illustrates brilliantly how a basic teaching such as walking meditation can be utilized in the service of whatever may be happening in the moment.

When we mature with teachings, it also gives us a way of being the teachings rather than always having to formally practice the teachings. For example, I enjoy and regularly do laps at the local pool designed for laps. Other than all the inherent benefits, especially for my age group, it’s also quiet time. Sometimes I sort out complications in my head while I swim. Sometimes I chant mantras for goddesses. Often I release Reiki from my palms, especially with breaststroke as palms open to sides, inundating the pool and the community of people who come there. There are the Reiki mantras too and/or OM/AUM which I’ve intoned for a hurting knee while swimming, or up and down my spine, or again for the whole community.

The following is a very healing text.
Its practice would be even more so.

Even in the most difficult situation, you can walk like a buddha. Last year I visited Korea, and there was one moment when my group was surrounded by hundreds of people. Each of them had a camera, and they were closing in. There was no path to walk, and everyone was aiming their camera at us. It was a very difficult situation in which to do walking meditation, so I said, “Dear Buddha, I give up, you walk for me.” And right away the Buddha came, and he walked, with complete freedom, and the crowd made room for the Buddha to walk; no effort was made. If you find yourself in some difficulty, step aside, and allow the Buddha to take your place. The Buddha is in you. This works in all situations, I have tried it. It’s like encountering a problem when you’re using the computer. You can’t get out of the situation. But then your big brother who is very skillful with computers comes along and says, “Move over a little, I’ll take over.” And as soon as he sits down, everything is all right. It’s like that. When you find it difficult, withdraw and allow the Buddha to take your place. You have to have faith in the Buddha within, and allow the Buddha to walk, and also allow the people dear to you to walk.

When you walk, who do you walk for? You can walk to get somewhere but you can also walk as a kind of meditative offering. It’s nice to walk for your parents or for your grandparents who may not have known the practice of walking in mindfulness. You ancestors may have spent their whole life without the chance to make peaceful, happy steps and establish themselves fully in the present moment.

It is possible for you to walk with the feet of your mother. You can say, “Mother, would you like to walk with me?” And then you walk with her, and your heart will fill with love. You free yourself and you free her at the same time, because your mother is in you, in every cell of your body. Your father is also fully present in every cell of your body. You can say, “Dad, would you like to join me?” Then suddenly you walk with the feet of your father. It’s a joy. It’s very rewarding. You don’t have to fight and struggle in order to do it. Just become aware.

After you have been able to walk for your dear ones, you can walk for the people who have made your life miserable. You can walk for those who have attacked you, who have destroyed your home, your country, and your people. These people weren’t happy. They didn’t have enough love for themselves and for other people. They have made your life miserable, and the life of your family and your people miserable. And there will be a time when you’ll be able to walk for them too. Walking like that, you become a buddha, you become a bodhisattva filled with love, understanding, and compassion.

— Thich Nhat Hanh


Walk Like a Buddha