Every weekday morning is utterly chaotic as I try to get my daughter ready for school. We seem to have a million things going on. It’s a mad rush to make it to school on time. But once we have stepped out of the door, into the madness that is London, is when, ironically enough, we experience a little respite.
My daughter sighed happily this morning, at the prospect of another walk with me, talking about everything and nothing as we made our way through traffic and people.
We seem to get along like a house on fire during our morning walk to school. She sings and chats and has plenty of observations to share, but is not necessarily demanding of my attention. So even though we walk together and enjoy each other’s company, we could very much be on our own as well. And so it was, as we were walking together one morning, it suddenly occurred to me that I could actually use this time to meditate, introspect or even simply observe my thoughts and feelings as they arise.
I started off by looking outward at all that was going on around me. I looked at everybody who passed by and even everything that passed by, as far as possible. It was interesting to note how many things I was seeing for the first time. It made the path to school a remarkable one. It’s a jostling, madding crowd on a weekday morning, and walking through droves of people takes more than just a little awareness. You don’t want to go bumping into strangers, nor do you want any unexpected incidents. So you turn on your radar (also known as awareness) and keep moving ahead.
Trying to stay centered in such a situation was an exhilarating challenge for me. I simply loved the feeling of trying to be aware of my body and mind when everything around me seemed to be going crazy. It was like sitting in the eye of the storm, trying to meditate. On one such occasion, I remember thinking how nice it would be if I could go away to a retreat and practice yoga and meditation, but then I was quick to drag my mind back to the present, saying that the best retreat in any case was inside my own body and mind.
To be present in chaos is a very intimidating challenge, but one that can liberate just as well as a quiet introspection on the mountains can. It is very hard for me to always remember, but I do try.
And even as I sit at my computer right now, I am trying to breathe with awareness, write with my heart and listen to all the sounds around me at the same time. This is what is called “being centered”, I guess. I am trying to stretch from my centre and go back to it without disturbing the equilibrium that I experienced on my morning walk.
The walk to school is definitely my teacher. It is where I put into practice some of what I have learnt through years as a yoga practitioner. What is important is that I learn slowly to apply it in every situation. If only every circumstance in life were like a walk to school……..