I've taken a break from blogging while I was enrolled in a mindfulness course--meditation has been good for my soul.
And my soles--the soles of my feet. Not only are there sitting meditations, but movement meditations. "Walking meditation" has not been one of my favorites, and I have never practiced it at home. The last day of class, though, we worked on it again.
The small conference room where we met was a bit drab, sometimes shadowy. I liked to sit facing the wide window--otherwise I faced a wall or door or white board. The matte carpet was a shade between putty and gray. My feet were bare, my toenails deep rose and just beginning to shed their pedicure--that little line that appears at the base of each nail.
The idea, to walk very slowly. Very very slowly: Balance your weight between the two feet. Now start to shift weight gradually to the left foot, without lifting the right foot off the ground. Lift the right heel, and slowly roll and lift that foot off the ground--step forward. Gradually put weight on the right foot, without lifting the left foot until the right has taken all the weight. Keep going--with intent.
Why move with such focus and deliberation? To notice everything in the moment.
This sounds incredibly boring, but it's incredibly what one can notice by directing the mind entirely to the present, to what is, to the now without wandering, without other distractions.
Obviously, I'm writing this all down because what I noticed shifted from the carpet and my feet and the sensation of movement broken down into each and every aspect of it--to realization.
As I walked in exaggerated slowness, my focus became the moment when one foot lifts entirely from the floor, swings forward, and the body must support itself on one leg, balancing. Ordinarily, most of us barely notice the split second walking where the body balances entirely on one side. Whether both feet are off a surface at once is what differentiates walking from running. The moment when a body decides what it will do, what it can do.
So this momentary suspension, point of balance, the body holding itself in space fascinated me yesterday. The singularity, being alone, waiting for weight-bearing, weight-sharing, respite, cooperation, wondering if it will come.
If you have two legs, two feet, they work together. A marriage or partnership can function that way or it can be off-balance, hopping. Each step with Robert's care bears weight. One side of the body takes it hard. Sometimes the burden has to be off-balance--one spouse, one side carries other burdens. How it's been with us.
Sometimes one side can't bear to let the other side carry that weight (right, think of The Band's eponymous song--it's a good one), and the left knee and hip bones and ligaments grind together, contract and never stretch enough.
How good it's been, I thought, slowly lifting my right foot to the top of my shabby toes, to feel the moment of release when the load of the body becomes the responsibility of the other limb, to feel the transfer of anxiety and concern leave that side and go to the other. How good it's been to know the other foot and leg can balance on its own, temporarily leveraged to give its partner some relief. How lovely to feel the lightness of a foot swinging briefly through air.