Solvitur ambulando’ ‘It is solved by walking’.
The phrase is attributed to Saint Augustine, but the wisdom is intuitive, as any parent who has ever paced around soothing an unhappy baby knows. If there is a garden or park available for the baby-soothing walk, so much the better. If the walking place is cool and leafy, with a mosaic of light shining through the leaves, chances are the baby will soon be both soothed and entranced. Even indoors, walking works its magic, and mirrors and blowing curtains do the work of sunlight and breeze.
Walking wisdom also pushes through into action at other times, for example, when we are in chronic pain or mental distress. When you wake in the night and lying in your bed is just intolerable, the body takes over and if you have any strength left to do it, you rise and pace the room, up and down or round and round. So we lull away pain and lull ourselves into a quieter state.
The many traditions of walking meditation embody this intuitive walking wisdom. We become grounded in our bodies as we slowly tread the earth beneath our feet. Our minds are momentarily freed of busy thoughts and worries, which fly free like doves from a pigeon loft. Later on, when they return to roost, they are calmer, more settled.
In this pathway blog I will share some thoughts about life’s journey and some of the things which come up for me along the way. Some of the pages will be about my work with the labyrinth. I hope to give something of the flavour of this special yet simple form of walking meditation. Perhaps you will be inspired to visit a labyrinth yourself. Even a simple circling walk around your garden, approached quietly and slowly, can give something of the feel of the prayer labyrinth.
As TS Eliot wrote in his poem Little Gidding: ‘We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time’.
And never forget, as Laurie Anderson has so beautifully pointed out in her ‘Walking and Falling’, with each step we take, we are really falling, and catching ourselves from falling, over and over…
You’re walking. And you don’t always realize it,
but you’re always falling.
With each step you fall forward slightly.
And then catch yourself from falling.
Over and over, you’re falling.
And then catching yourself from falling.
And this is how you can be walking and falling
at the same time.