One of my favorite habits is a nice slow kinhin – walking meditation – on the beach a couple blocks from my house. One step per breath, slow and deliberate.
It’s amazing what you notice – both about your surroundings and yourself – by moving slowly. I’m usually barefoot, feeling the sand beneath my feet, tasting the salt air, smelling the occasional bundle of decaying kelp, watching the snowy plovers searching for food, and listening to the pounding surf. Every sense is engaged.
By taking the time to consciously, mindfully, engage each sense and recognize what they are conveying, you learn to fully observe instead of just letting the world rush by while your mind is handling a torrent of thoughts on projects, worries, plans, or even the latest Kardashian gossip. I feel more connected with myself and the world, while also feeling like just a very small connection in a very elaborate masterpiece. Feeling small means worries and concerns seem less consequential, less important, providing peace.
I haven’t always been like this. One of my first bosses told me to “walk with purpose.” Deliberate, strong, and fast – projecting confidence and authority. And so I did. I was often annoyed by slower folks that would get in my way. How dare they hold me up!
Then one day I learned about the Ohno Circle and I paused. I stood, watched, and learned. I realized how much I was missing by moving quickly. I began to move slower, taking care to observe. I also began to plan observation. What was I going to observe? How? What is the problem or purpose? What would I do with what I learned?
According to my wife I also began to drive slower or, in her words, became a “grandpa driver.” Is there truly a rush? Usually not. We’re just socially pre-dispositioned to want to go fast, to compete, to get someplace quicker, regardless of necessity. What are you missing? You may not know. It still drives her a bit nuts when I intentionally take the long route to a destination, perhaps the more interesting road less travelled.
So about that slow driver ahead of you, causing you to speed and swerve and bolt ahead to probably just meet again at the next batch-creating stop light. Is he old and senile, or happy and aware… and observing?
Slow down and observe, otherwise you might think you’ve arrived but not know where you’ve been or the interesting things you’ve passed. Maybe I’m still “walking with purpose,” but my purpose has changed.