Walking Your Prayers
This is my personal practice.
This is the way I open to Grace.
This is the way my mind mostly quiets.
This is the practice that brings me the most peace.
And—interestingly, my dogs taught me.
Early in my canine-care-person-incarnation, walking Lucy and Zacy twice a day occurred as effort, as a to-do thrust upon me, as an-almost waste of time.
I couldn’t settle into it.
Overly involved in their bodily functions, certain things had to happen for me to relax, poop and dog-pee-wise.
There was a goal.
Surely not for the canines.
Surely there were other, more important things that had to get done, in my life, in LIFE, that I had to do.
I almost-resented the never-ending nature of it, their always-need, to take them out…..
….. to take them out.
Always, to take them out.
Yet, taking them out, out became one of the greatest gifts of my life.
Lucy Doodle (blond/bombshell/party/dog) and Zac Joe Doodle (monk/disguised/as/salt-and-pepper/pooch) taught me that prayer and walking were one.
Although I had led walking meditation for years at Kripalu, it was a slow-motioned process, appropriate probably only for the Forest Room at Kripalu or the privacy of one’s own deeply carpeted bedroom. Walking in super-slow motion, allowing the weight to so gradually shift from one foot to the other, etc., was clearly deep and lovely yet annoyingly impractical, for me.
I am a zoomer. I zoom through the day.
Yet again, I managed to frame spiritual practice as something I didn’t do right, something I didn’t do enough of, something externalized I had to mold into, and become.
And falling short—always, falling short of my own spiritual expectations.
But somewhere, somehow, Lucy the Dog and Zac Joe Doodle’s constant smelling, sniffing, exploring, and savoring showed me, in their silent, magical-canine-kind of way, that it was all a prayer.
All of it was a prayer.
Let the walking be a prayer!
They were surely doing that and having a much better time than I was.
The practice gradually revealed itself to me.
Let my steps in natural rhythm carry a repetitive prayer, mantra, affirmation through my body.
Let my prayers walk onward, into and through my body.
Let my prayers drop from my brain, my thinking self, as an idea, down into the cells of my body.
It was genius.
It was clearly not my idea.
Clearly with every sniff, with every tiny pee (liquid or not), with every single full-bodied sniff, they were alive with Presence, filled with Grace, connected to the Flow.
I started finding prayers available to me.
And to this day, this is my core practice.
I walk a lot now, with Zac, at 93, more ambling, at my side.
I walk alone these days much more, alone I go, sadly and strongly alone, with no young spry doodle at my side.
And prayer is available in most steps, a tether, an anchor, calming me down while opening me up.
And silence emerges and blessings emerge and ideas emerge and insights blossom.
And birds sing and deer dance and leaves celebrate and sunshine beams
Find your rhythm.
Be found by your body’s rhythm.
Add words—simple, short, first-person affirmations—
Song lyric, line from a poem, from a prayer—let the words be a tether that return you back to your body, while flinging open the doors to the glory of the world around us.
This is the coolest, most subversive practice; you can be walking in Home Depot deep in prayer…….
Heading toward a potentially crappy meeting at work…………
Trudging the path in the shopping center parking lot.
And you can be alive with prayer,
Walking with prayer,
Filled with prayer,
Anchored by prayer,
One with prayer.
The Doodles lived it.
Let’s walk our prayers.
Dear Friends, keep it simple. Let the words come and go. Practice the anchoring inside and notice the expansion outside. We get it all, inside and out, one step at a time.
Keep me posted, of course, and always! I am firstname.lastname@example.org.