Now I have gone and done it. With my heart racing and face flushing I signed up for a 5K walk to be held on June 12th. My first Walk for a cause ever. I am not sure I can do this. I am still huffing and puffing as I walk 2 miles in about 35 minutes each day. That is a poor pace and I know it. I am aiming at bringing that down to a mile every 15 minutes and increasing each day by at least a tenth of a mile to get to as close to walking 5K as I can by d-day. I had initially responded with a 'Maybe' to join then this new friend I have who is a personal trainer and is helping me achieve my fitness goals pushed me over. "Say yes - and I will join your cause too." Oh,oh - my first thought was, "Stupid girl - why did you have to mention the walk to the one person who was going to push you to do it?" I got my answer while the question was forming in my mind, "Because you want to do this but have no self confidence that you can." The real I truly wanted to do it but my ego self was thinking what a laughable idea it was. My thoughts are my enemy very often. You know those times when I 'know' what someone else is thinking about me? How ego centric is that? As if people have the time to be thinking about me. I am not thinking about others then why do I believe that others are doing so? That pattern has become a habit and even though I am unaffected by what people think and say about me there is that second in which that thought still comes up. If I am not present and not fully conscious it takes over. It is a strange place to be in - almost like I am lying to myself. Deep down somewhere I know that I am a confident, compassionate, loving person but somewhere else is this belief that I am not. The belief is what has won for years - the conditioned me that thinks it is protecting and serving me well. The knowing on the other hand has watched silently waiting for the belief to wear itself down.
This Walk means so much more than physical fitness. It is walking me into that knowledge that I fleetingly see when I undertake a challenge of some sort. Now that I have glimpsed it I want to hold on to it for longer periods of time so it is the only Me that I can see. I am keen on walking there over the next three weeks. I know I can do it - so what if I am huffing and puffing to the finish line? Each day as I increase the distance and reduce the time I seem to be enjoying the walks. When I first started all my concentration went on breathing and putting one foot in front of the other. I was totally unaware of what was around me. I looked down and watched the pavement as I took one step and then the next and I huffed. Then a few days later I realized I was not watching my foot but whether the path ahead was uphill, downhill or straight. I waited for the point at which it was going downwards for that was so much easier to do - the very next thought - 'which means there is an uphill just ahead.' I was constantly planning how to get to the downhills without going through the uphills. I knew it was impossible but the same thoughts kept doing the rounds. Then I went out determined to be more conscious of my surroundings as I walked. The silly thoughts did not all go away but I saw the beautiful rose bushes in the front yards of beautifully manicured lawns and wondered why we were so bent on making everything look so well managed. Even the grass, plants and trees - everything that grows so beautifully without our help we want to control.
How then could I have lost control over my own body and mind? Simple - I strived to control everything and everyone I am not supposed to control and lost sight of the one person who I needed to pay attention to - me. First the husband then the children, the house, the job, the dog, my relationships - everything was important. To think that I could have included myself in that list never struck me while I was 'living life.' Awareness of this came only when my health failed me to a point where I simply had to stop and think. Diabetes is considered a silent killer - it affects the internal organs insidiously and is therefore dangerous for a woman like me. As I checked my blood daily I knew that the sugar was not under control for most of the 12 years - but no one else needed to know about it. By the time I stopped working and had time for myself I had forgotten how to care for my body. I had let it go for so long that attempting to care for it seemed like an insurmountable task. It is only over the last six months or so that I recognized the need to attend to my health in earnest. I am glad I did. These daily walks have slowly opened up small cracks in windows within me that are revealing aspects of the Truth that I did not understand before.
The senses are all powerful when I let them be so. They take me to the beautiful outside world and enlighten me about things. It is only if and when I go deeply into my mind that the senses lose their power over me. The manicured lawns and flowers and shrubs were always there but I was so busy fighting the strain of the walk and wondering if I was going to make it up to the next tree 5 steps away or to the stop sign 10 feet away that even the tree I was trying to reach was nothing more than a point on the pavement. The downhill walks were the best. They felt good and made me smile and for some time I dreamed about walking off for miles into the distance and calling my husband for a ride back home uphill. Then it would hit me - he is at work. I would have to walk for the next 8 hours and since I never carry any money on me during my walks, I would have to do this without any food. Then I would turn back and look at the uphill task ahead and want to cry. The beauty of the green fields and woods around me were lost.
I often listen to sermons on my shuffle as I walk. At first I heard nothing - yes I was busy huffing and puffing. Then I forced myself to listen to the voice if not to the words so I could take my mind off the pain. It helped. That is the power of the mind. It has the absolute capacity of going inward on demand. The habit of living by the senses makes me forget this capacity. I have now realized what meditation is really all about. It is the art of stopping my consciousness from enlightening the outside world and using it to enlighten itself. Since I cannot enlighten my own consciousness with the same ease as I can the outside world using my senses I need to use an object that I am unconditionally in love with - like a mantra, Guru or Thakur to put my mind on. The next stage is to use these as a conduit that takes me further into my own consciousness. It is like walking into a dark room with a candle. The visibility is not the same as if there had been natural light flooding the room. If I want to get to the center of that dark room I have to take the candle and carefully walk there. Once I am there I can blow the candle out - I have arrived at my destination. My Guru is that candle and I must learn to take my eyes off of my Guru and look at what He is lighting up within Him and so within me. Oh the feeling of exhilaration this knowledge brings. The fleeting glimpses of that inner awareness have always left me feeling incomplete. I have always wondered why I cannot get there everytime and also why I just could not be there all the time. Now I know I do not need to - just once is enough. The experience has changed me. There is no doubt about the existence of God - if God is Consciousness then He exists. If He exists in me then I must acknowledge His presence everywhere. No I do not see Him everywhere but I know He is there.
Imagine that - all this from huffing and puffing up a few degrees uphill climb with this heavy body. No wonder walking feels so good. Now if only I could just keep walking uphill without feeling like my heart would beat itself out of me everything would be perfect. I can do it and so I will continue walking up the next hill for it means I have to walk downhill into the beautiful garden. Then I can turn and climb up the hill home.