(Back from two and a half week retreat with Ruth Denison, at Dhamma Dena Desert Vipassana Center, I am devoting the next few weeks to sharing Ruth's wonderful teachings.)
Ruth Denison, Teaching the Subtleties of Walking Meditation.
"First let us stand and notice: just standing. What are the sensations?"
"Then let's do a few movements to loosen up before we start."
"And now we start walking in circle."
"Notice 'Lifting - forward - placing'".
I have heard the same instructions before, from other teachers, but Ruth has a way of saying things that make them stick. This time, I am listening as if for the first time, and am able to really focus on the movements of each foot. Feeling "Lifting - forward - placing". I get into a rhythm with the rest of the group, as we move slowly inside the zendo.
"Did you notice which lands first, the toes or the heel?" Ruth is urging us to become more precise. "How about the knees?" "And the shift of the weight with each step?"
Ruth steps out of our circle and grabs a maracas. She asks us to walk to the rhythm of various beats. "Are you listening?" True listening is hard. It requires letting go of thoughts.
Then, Ruth takes us outside, and launches into a brilliant demonstration of how to handle thinking during the course of walking - in response to question from me:
Walking slowly, seeing, thinking, feeling the caress of the desert breeze and the intense heat from the afternoon sun . . . meanwhile being fast, with the mind.