- A Mindful Walk -

In my course States of Consciousness, I introduce the students to "mindfulness" meditation (often called Vipassana). Some excellent books have been written about this style of meditation, including Henepola Gunaratanašs "Mindfulness in Plain English" and Charles Tartšs "Living the Mindful Life." After a few weeks of practicing this sitting meditation, I suggest to the class that we try a different approach to mindfulness. I suggest that we take a 15 minute walk around campus - the whole time remaining as mindful as possible (on our campus, wešre fortunate enough to have a lake to walk around). In a nutshell, this mindful walk involves the following ingredients: Once we return to the classroom, I ask the students to write down what they experienced during the mindful walk. Then, in small groups and/or a whole class discussion, we discuss the following questions: One fun exercise is to ask the students - either working individually or in small groups - to come up with questions about the walk to "test" the mindfulness of other students. For example, "Where were we when the wind changed direction?, What phase was the moon?, What was the color of the car that drove past us?" After exploring the questions listed above and the "test" questions, students may be able to determine their particular style of mindfulness. Some people are very tuned to sights, some to sounds, some to kinesthetic and tactile sensations. Some are very sensitive to the social dynamics of what the group was doing during the walk. Some get very caught up in the internal world of thoughts, feelings, memories, and monkey mind.

It might be fun and helpful to tell the students some classic eastern stories about awareness and mindfulness. For instance, on the Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors web site, see "Full Awareness," "Tea or Iron," and "Self Control."

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