Walking Meditation: A Metaphor for Making Changes in Your Life

20150805174656-delicate-balanceThe mindfulness course
My left foot comes down solidly on the bare wood floor of the yoga centre. I’m wearing my black wool socks. It’s cold in this empty classroom. Our yoga mats are spread out in the middle of the room while we, the mindfulness class, circumnavigate the empty spaces. My right foot begins its conscious movement forward. The ball of my foot presses into the floor, my body tips forward and slowly, very slowly, the right foot lifts and places itself alongside the left. For a second or two, I was unstable. You could easily have knocked me over. I’m aware that I can’t move ahead unless I get off balance.

Transition, making changes
My mind plays with this metaphor for life: change and transition can’t happen without first getting off balance. With one foot in the air, I’m unsure and ungrounded. I have to risk becoming unstable in order to go forward. If I don’t risk unsteadiness, I can’t change what needs to be different. This simple truth emerges out of the walking meditation. For life to go forward I need to endure the discomfort of transitions.

The stressors of moving and making changes
Take my current situation: I’m about to move again. There’s nothing like moving to throw a person off balance. Everything that’s familiar – the view from the kitchen window to the position of your bed – everything combines to make your life feel precarious. It’s weeks of having one foot in the air. As in the walking meditation, I’ve been continually off balance, one foot in the air, over the past year and a half. If I hadn’t risked change and unsteadiness I couldn’t have moved forward with my life. Leaving the city, the neighbourhood and the house I’d lived in for 43 years as well as going from 55 years as part of a married couple to being an older woman living alone in an apartment, all of this had me wobbling, one foot in the air, stressed and unsure.

Tolerating being unbalanced
The full day retreat, part of an eight-week course in mindfulness, drives home the need to tolerate being unbalanced in order to take charge of my own life. Tomorrow I get the keys to another new apartment. Once more, I’ll be anxious and wobbly, but as far as I know, it’s the only way to allow my life to unfold as it’s meant to.


  1. Middle East Expat says:

    Thank you for such beautiful and poignant post.

    Having moved almost every single 2 years for 16 years- you explained that internal discombobulation so perfectly. I could close my eyes and the felt-sense of that unsteady wobbling in me: emotionally, physically, mentally…the whole shebang.

    Your writing is ethereal and winds in such a surprising way. One of my favorite calming mantras is, “Let it unfold. Breathe. Just let it unfold.” And so your last line hit me right in the feels. It may have become my new next favorite mantra: allow my life to unfold as it’s meant to.

  2. Cathy says:

    Hi Mary, your walking meditation article reminds me of this quote: “Then the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom . . .” – Anais Nin

    Thank you for sharing,

    Jen xx

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