Falling into focus

A walking meditation can be a revealing exercise.

The practice is to walk very slowly and pay deliberate attention to the 3 parts involved – lifting our leg, moving it forward and placing it back on the ground. Lift, move, place. Lift, move, place.

On doing this, I realized how everytime we lift our legs, we are actually unbalanced. When we place our foot down, we regain our balance. Walking, then, is the process of falling into the next step – a continually process of losing and regaining one’s balance. If this is hard to believe, try standing on one foot for a while.

We are all exceptionally good at walking, but not at paying undivided attention. Yet focusing the mind involves the same process – of momentarily losing one’s focus and regaining it.

Studies have examined the minds of long-time meditators who can maintain intense focus. They found that their minds are also prone to wandering. The key difference here is that they have trained their minds to regain focus as soon as it wanders away – much like we regain our balance with every step.

Walking and paying attention are both dynamic acts of continual recovery.