Paramhansa Yogananda said, “Most people live in the past or the future. When you can be truly happy in the present, then you have God.” This month’s Daily Meditator features The Vibrant Peace Walk, a meditation designed to help you experience the vibrancy and power of the eternal now.
Swami Kriyananda once told me, “When I was a child, beautiful colors would send me into ecstasy.” The more you are centered in the here and now, the more life will leap like a dancer and fill you with great joy.
Whenever you are in a beautiful outdoor setting, you can focus on the whole Vibrant Peace Walk or just favorite sections.
The Vibrant Peace Walk
“All good things come from stillness.”
–Joseph Bharat Cornell
Feel the joy, serenity, and love that come from being fully aware of the present moment. John Muir said that to know trees (and all of nature) we must be as free of cares and time as the trees themselves. When we quiet our internal dialogue and are no longer self-preoccupied—every leaf, flower and rock will speak to us.
The secret to experiencing nature is to still our thoughts so we can fully receive and merge with the world around us. Li Po, the Chinese poet, beautifully expresses how the mind becomes mirror-like when it becomes still:
“The birds have vanished in the sky, and the last cloud drains away.
We sit together, the mountain and I, until only the mountain remains.”
The senses become heightened when we live in the present. Every tree, birdsong, and cloud seems vivid and joyous because our attention is totally focused in the here and now.
We see the world as being not separate but unified with us, and we feel great delight as we sail with the clouds and soar with the cranes high across the sky.
Henry David Thoreau was serious about his walks in nature and gave the following advice for anyone contemplating taking a walk outdoors:
“We should go forth… in the spirit of undying adventure, never to return. If you are ready to leave father and mother… wife and child and friends, and never see them again, — if you have paid your debts, and made your will, and settled all your affairs, and are a free man, then you are ready for a walk.”
“When in the wilds, we must not carry our problems with us or the joy is lost.“
The breath reflects one’s mental state. As the breath becomes calmer, so does the mind, and vice versa. Relax your mind by doing these simple breathing exercises:
Inhale and tense your whole body. As you exhale, relax your body and feel you are energetically casting aside all worries, problems, and thoughts. Do this three times.
Inhale slowly counting one to eight, hold your breath for the same number of counts, then exhale for the same count. This is one round of “even count breathing.” Do five rounds.
The Stillness Meditation
(This is a variation on the Hong-Sau Technique of Concentration taught by Yogananda.)
Observe the natural flow of your breath. Do not control the breath in any way. Simply follow it with your attention. Each time you inhale, think “Still.” Each time you exhale, think “Ness.”
Repeating “Still … Ness” with each complete breath helps focus the mind and prevents your attention from wandering from the present moment.
During the pauses between inhalation and exhalation, stay in the present moment, calmly observing whatever is in front of you. If thoughts of the past or future disturb your mind, calmly bring your attention back to what is before you, and continue repeating “Still … Ness” with your breathing.
When your mind wanders, repeat the following poem. It will help bring you back into the present.
“Let my mind become silent,
And my thoughts come to rest.
I want to be
All that is before me.
I become everything.”
Feel Yourself in Every Sound and Movement
It’s wonderful how everything in wild nature is part of us.
“The sun shines not on us, but in us.
The river flows not past, but through us.”
As you walk, feel that everything around you is a part of you. Feel yourself in the trees, standing tall and firm. Feel inside of you the movement of their branches and leaves as they sway and flutter with the slightest breezes.
Become the birds as they flit from branch to branch. Listen to their voices and feel their joyous songs resonating within you.
Follow the wind by the sounds and movements it creates as it flows through, around and over trees, meadows and rocks.
Feel yourself in every sound, movement, and creation of Nature.
If your mind begins to dwell on the past or to anticipate the future, focus your thoughts with the following practice:
As you walk, Make a smile with your whole body and joyfully repeat the words:
“I am peace… I am joy.
I am… in all things.”
Always live expansively. Enjoy the contrast between being self-absorbed and tiny—and embracing all life around you.